Hey 2016, I'm ready for you.

Saying goodbye to a year brings lots of odd emotions. As I have reflected on my past year, I have realized how much God has been with me each and every step of the way.

The Z List was created in August of 2015. It was a huge leap of faith to take, and I haven't regretted it in the slightest. 

Life is the oddest dichotomy. Seasons are filled with immense pain and pleasure. 2015 was filled with seasons of depression, deep sorrow,  and anxiety. It was also filled with so much joy, grace, and gratitude. In every waking moment, I thank God. We aren't guaranteed anything beyond birth and death. What I have seen at work in my life is only a testament to the goodness and grace of the Father. 

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2016. 

Wow. It is a year of so much change, transition, excitement, etc. 

I am graduating college. With no immediate plans for grad school, I am faced with many unknowns. I have no idea what city I will be in, what job I will have, and so on. To put it simply, 2016 is filled with many unknowns. 

It also marks 5 years without my dad. That is such a mind blowing fact, because sometimes I still wait for his name to pop up on my phone or my dog to eagerly greet him as he walks in the door.

So yes, 2016 is a unique year.

Am I nervous? Yes. I would be lying if I said I was completely zen about this next phase.

But there is a deep peace emerging within my soul. That is a miracle in and of itself, because I almost never feel completely at peace. What I do know about 2016 is that I am not walking into these unknowns alone. Beyond my incredible communities that I am blessed to be a part of, I am led by my Father. And He is a good, good Father.

So yes there are many unknowns. 

In the unknown, there is a whole lot to be afraid of. But goodness, there is a lot to be excited for too! 

I absolutely love the phrase "the best is yet to come." And that is what I am choosing to be my 2016 mantra. I am looking forward to a year of grace, love, God's mercy and blessings. Maybe my year won't turn out how I am planning on it, but God is planning something incredible for my life and I need to be confident and assured that HIS plan is the best plan. 

New Year's comes with this tradition of writing resolutions. My best friend commented that gyms must love January 1st--because most people make the new year all about losing weight. Being healthy is always one of my ultimate resolutions. 2016's resolutions definitely aim at improving my relationship with Christ, because without Him I am nothing.  

I am also aiming to take more rests (no is something I need to learn), to constantly showering others in love and grace, and to exploring more of who I am and my purpose on this planet.

 

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Praying big things for 2016.  Excited to share them with you, and excited to see how your 2016 works out! Comment on your resolutions and how I can be praying for them.

xx,

 

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{what they don't tell you about} Grief.

Today' post I am writing has been weighing on my heart for sometime. I know I have promised a series on thankfulness + gratitude, and that is coming soon. But this five letter word has been ever present on my mind. I am about to lose someone else who I love and cherish. I have agonized over this, been angry with God, and frankly been re-acquainted with the beginning stages of grief.

So yes, today's post is about grief. If you hopped on The Z List for the first time, I can assure you that not all of my posts are this morose or gloomy.

Grief is that elephant in the room. One of my former therapists said it best, there is no proper way to grieve. 

Because how do you grieve the loss of someone you love? Whether you lose them in death, or in relationship, grief sucks.

Side note: You can grieve many things. Death is what I focus on in my post, but you can grieve relationships or situations.

The internet and message boards would like to tell you so much about how to grieve, or the best way to mourn. They will give you their five step method, their year through grief method, and in their opinion, the "best" way to move on.

Is it possible to move on from someone? Yes, there is an idea of acceptance. I agree with that. I am mostly to the point where I have accepted the fact that Dad isn't here. He missed high school graduation, he won't see me walk the stage in May, and he won't grab my hand as I walk to my beloved.

This, I have come to accept. 

But sticking to the post title, I am about to tell you some "facts" about grief that aren't always represented on book shelves.

This is no knock to the psychologists and therapists who spend months writing books on grief. Ive read my fair share, and some have really helped. 

So here is what they may not tell you:

They might not tell you that there are triggers, even 1,679 days into your grieving process. There are smells that remind me of my dad. There are sounds (he absolutely loved Neil Diamond). I can't be near Gordon Biersch, because every day after work my dad popped one open.

Sometimes looking at my niece makes me sad, because I know that Daddy would have been besotted with her. 

When you grieve, people will tell you to stay strong. Mourning isn't weakness. I actually find mourning to be the opposite. The nights where I have sobbed ceaselessly into my pillow, or into my mommy's arms, I have felt strong. Because I knew that the love I had for my dad was stronger than any earthly force. 

Some also think they have the right words. They don't. Even what I am writing isn't right. Humans tend to want to find logical answers. There is no explanation for a healthy twenty two year old getting end stage cancer. None. 

Clive Staples (aka C.S. Lewis) wrote one of my favorite books on grief. It is titled, A Grief Observed.

In it, he writes:

“We cannot understand. The best is perhaps what we understand least.” 

I know that is frustrating to read. Hard to grasp at. The unknown is terrifying. Actually, most of my anxiety stems from the unknown.

But perhaps there is peace in knowing not so much. I can't write much on this, and honestly I wont try, so on to my next point.

People might try and put a time table on your grief. Know that a year, or two, or even ten, is not nearly long enough to grieve.

It has been nearly five years for me. I still miss Dad like it was April 29, 2011. Grief is lifelong.

That really isn't meant to sound negative. Actually, in a twisted way, it is somewhat beautiful.

You're grieving the loss of a life you cherished. A life that made this world unique. And a loss that makes this world a little emptier.

"Grieving can be beautiful. Because often times it displays our love for the lost. You will lose someone you can't live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn't seal back up. And you come through. Its like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly-that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp."

Ann Lamott sums it up so perfectly. You never do get over loss. Not completely. You miss someone every damn day of your life. Sometimes it hurts to wake up, get out of bed, and face another day without them.

But then you realize, they haven't fully died. Yes, they are buried in a casket or maybe their ashes lies somewhere over Wrigley Field (my dad worked in the funeral business, I know too much about this stuff).

So while physically they can't be there to hug you, they are present with you forever. Whether it is an Indians game (my daddy sure loved his Tribe) or a shopping trip (the someone I referenced to earlier is the best dressed human I know) they hug your heart forever. 

And you extend their legacy by living for them, not forgetting them. Don't wallow forever. If they lived twenty-two or fifty-nine years, smile for the joy and amazingness they brought to this Earth, and others. 

Yes, laughing is okay. I mean, we are human. Like my therapist said, there is no proper way to grieve. 

You will feel broken. There is a part of you that is missing. You won't move on, but you will stand again. Because, they want you to. They compel you to stand. Live in honor of the one or ones you mourn. Weep. Cry. Laugh. Eat pints and pints of ice cream. Do an Irish Wake for them.

But know this, there is not one proper way to grieve. Don't put a time table on grief. Don't expect to fall in line with the 5 stages. This just ain't reality. 

With my concluding thoughts,  I would say that grief and the process in and of itself reminds me a lot of the ocean. 

Waves come in and out. And this is much like the seasons of grief. In the spring, you may not miss them. On Thanksgiving, you're waiting for them to criticize the stuffing. Grief is like a wave. It comes in and out. 

"Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.”

Much like learning to dance with a limp, you learn to swim. At times you may feel like drowning. You may feel the waves are trying to crush you, to pull you in. But yes, yes you, will swim. Not perfect strokes, not Olympic style swimming, maybe more like dog paddling. You learn to swim not because you have to,  but because eventually you will want to. You could want to stay in bed for the rest of your days, but then you remember that person you lost. You say to yourself, "What would [blank] want me to do?"

My friend, they would want you to swim.

And so you swim on. 

PS: If you ever want to talk it out, please let me know. I'm here.

All my love,

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Top 10 Tuesday

Hello hello hello!

 

I haven't blogged in 6 days (gasp) and for that I apologize. Life definitely has its busy season, and I am in the midst of mine. Though, saying you're busy because of school is a much bigger blessing than a burden. There are much worse things that could be happening, and a 10 page paper is not one of them. 

I am PUMPED about this week's top 10. I have some good things on this list, and I am excited to share them with you!

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1) Krankie's Airstream. Krankie's Coffee is a Winston Salem staple. Their Airstream trailer is the drive thru (or walk up) branch of the same shop that is in downtown Winston. To get to the Airstream, take Reynolda Road all the way down. It is right before you hit the Children's Home, and about .2 miles away from Northwest Blvd.

2) Butter London Lip Gloss-Hot Toddy. This color is my JAM. You can pick up Butter London here

3) Tis the season for AZIZ's latest stuff. I am loving Master of None!

4) Really digging this Tailored Tee. 

5) We all need some happiness in our lives. This tea is great for that! 

6) Quilted tights. They keep my legs super warm, and they're super cute. I got my pair from Bevello, but I found a similar pair online. 

7) I met Molly through my friend Katita. Her blog is super fun and spunky and all things great. Make sure you visit Molly on the Move!!

8) Wake's soccer team is in the ACC semifinals. I brought my little nugget, Davis, to the last game and he loved it! 

9) One Direction is really pulling at my heart strings and I am loving it. I can't wait for the rest of the album to come out!

10) The nonprofit I worked for is doing big things. Check them out here.

Many more exciting things to come on the Z List! Remember to keep checking out the site and follow me on all my socials for more info! 

Lots of love,

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Fall has arrived

Hi beauties-

Well it is officially fall! Bring on the photos of PSL's (ew gross), pumpkin patches, and chilly nights.

One of my favorite parts about fall is the shifting of the weather. While I love me some summer evenings, I absolutely adore "sweater weather." Lets be real, the closest California gets to sweater weather is a 65 degree summer day in San Francisco. 

I really didn't expect to greet fall weather so early, but NC weather tends to be unpredictable. My mom is visiting me this weekend, and in anticipation of her being cold, I pulled out some of my capes and sweaters. 

The following photos are showing off one of my favorite capes! I got it at ASOS. You can find a similar product here

I am wearing a sweater dress, also from ASOS. Click here .

Overall I had a wonderful weekend with my mom! It was filled with good memories, laughs, and snuggles. I am so very thankful that she was able to visit me. It is a true blessing. Having lost my dad a few years ago, my heart was with those whose parents couldn't come this weekend or weren't able to.

Thanks for following The Z List! The next few posts are exciting, so keep checking back!


Tips and Tricks for Music Festivals

Hi!

This weekend I had the amazing opportunity to visit Atlanta and attend the music festival, Music Midtown. The headliners were Sam Smith, Van Halen, Drake, and Elton John, and other acts included Kodaline, Hozier, Hall and Oats, Icona Pop, Alessia Cara, etc!

I traveled to Atlanta with my friend Peyton, and my sorority big sister Laura hosted us! It was so fun to be with my ladies, experience a new city, and hear amazing music.

I wrote some tips and tricks I found useful. Though music festival season is almost over, these tips probably work for any concert!

1) Drink lots of water before, during, and after. 

Odds are you're going to be standing for a while, so fuel up. Music Midtown allowed us to bring one unopened water bottle in. I brought Smart Waters, though plenty of water bottle brands make big bottles. Most venues have refilling sessions, so use those.

2) Bring gum. I am a big proponent of gum, especially because it helps fight dry mouth. If you're like me or my ladies and know every Drake lyric, your mouth is going to dry up real fast. So I brought a pack of gum with me each day to stop dry mouth.

3) Skip the heels. Y'all know I love me some heeled booties, but these are not the move. Instead, try and wear converses or Vans. Your feet will thank you!

4) Bring a portable phone charger, or put  your phone on Airplane mode. When you have 20,000 people all trying to access their Snapchats, timelines, or texts, your phone just isn't going to work. If you really want to use your phone for pictures, bring a portable charger. Other than that, I would suggest putting it on airplane mode! 

5) Bring a towel, if you want to be chill. On Saturday, we were pretty exhausted. We elected to bring a towel and just plop down on a hill. 

6) Bandaids, extra cash, Advil, and chapstick: I packed my purse with Advil, bandaids, lip gloss, and no cash, because I left my wallet in Winston. Thank God for Venmo! 

7) Bring sunglasses and lather on the SPF: Odds are you're going to be standing in the sun, so bring some sunnies and take care of your skin!

8) Eat big meals before, and pack a granola bar: Music festivals are known for expensive food, so make sure you stock up on some proteins/carbs before you get there. While you're in the festival, try and split meals with your friends!

9) Ask your LYFT or Uber driver for tips on how to get home: Odds are you're going to encounter a mass exodus when you leave the last concert of the night. Ask your Lyft or Uber driver for pick up tips on your way there. On our way to the festival on Saturday, our Lyft driver gave us a tip that saved us later that evening. 

10) Pregame: Alcohol is EXPENSIVE. We pregamed before we entered the park, and this helped us spend less on alcohol once we got there. 

Most importantly, have fun! Stick with your crew. Accept that you're going to be using a port-a-potty, and rock out! Concerts are truly an electric experience and a place where unforgettable memories are made!

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