Sunday, January 31

sunday simplicity.

“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.” 
― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Friday, January 29

#5FandomFriday: Late To The Game TV Discoveries

5 Fandom Friday is a weekly prompt challenge hosted by The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space ChickThis week's #5FandomFriday topic is Late to the Game TV Discoveries, and I had way more than 5, so I had to narrow it down to my faves.

The Simpsons - As a kid, I wasn't allowed to watch The Simpsons because, according to my mom, "the kids in that show are disrespectful to their parents" and they didn't want me picking up on Bart Simpson's bad habits or "Don't have a cow, man"s. I think it probably just came on at the same time as something else they wanted to watch. It happened to be on in syndication during my high school "eat ramen noodles and watch whatever's on FOX before dance classes start" hour, and I was actually surprised when I realized that The Simpsons is for smart people.

X-Files - Yet another thing my parents wouldn't let me watch, this time because "it looks like it will give you nightmares." Which, yes, totally valid point considering we had to stop watching Unsolved Mysteries because I dreamed about someone setting our house on fire with gasoline. I started watching the show when I was in college and fell in love, and even dragged my mom to see the movie in the theater with me. Of course, I'm pumped about the new episodes.

That 70's Show - I wasn't into That 70's Show when it first started airing, probably because I was still a delicate and pure little flower and spent all my time going to ballet class and reading Redwall. During 11th and 12th grade, it became one of my favorite shows after I'd caught up on all the reruns in syndication, and to this day it's probably my all time fave.

Firefly - I blame not liking Firefly the first time around because FOX aired the original episodes out of order and my high school self went to "OMG new scifi series from the creator of Buffy!" to "Why are they on a train?" in about 5 seconds. Mr. Q and I started watching a marathon on Syfy, ended up watching every episode, and we now own the whole series on Blu-Ray along with Serenity. I finally understood why nerds love Nathan Fillion so much, what a Browncoat was, and why Jayne's knit hat was so funny.

Broad City - a newer discovery, I'd seen the ads for Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer's show on Comedy Central but never checked it out until Hulu kept recommending it to me whenever I watched The Mindy Project and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Even though a lot of the show's humor is stoner humor (or maybe because of it), it's become a go-to for me when I have some down time and need a laugh. Abbi and Ilana are probably the realest BFF's I've ever seen on TV.

What TV shows have you fallen in love with...
after everyone else already did?

Thursday, January 28

please take my 2016 reader survey!

I can't believe that I've been blogging on Beyond the Aisle for five years now. What started as my wedding planning blog has become a place for me to share my love of practical fashion,  document my travels, round up ideas for bringing a spirit of celebration to everyday life, and geek out about my favorite TV shows, movies, and books. 

As I think about the direction I want the blog to take in 2016, one thing I know for sure is that I don't want to stop now, but that the content of the blog is going to gradually shift in focus - where weddings used to be front and center in my heart and on the blog, that phase of my life is now a fond memory. 

As Beyond the Aisle has become a lifestyle blog, I think about you, my readers, what your own lifestyles entail, and how I might be able to help you live those lives colorfully. I love those moments when I check my e-mail and see that you're checking out a book or seeing a movie I've recommended, see one of your beautiful faces on my Instagram feed, or when I read your blogs and realize that I've found a kindred spirit who loves the same things I do. To help facilitate those moments in 2016, I’ve created my first Beyond the Aisle Reader Survey. This survey is 100% anonymous, is only ten questions long, and will help me create content that will keep you coming back to Beyond the Aisle. Will you please take a few minutes to help me get to know you better? All you have to do is fill out the Typeform below and hit submit. In a month, I'll review and compile the results and start working on an action plan to make BTA better than ever, and relevant to our real lives right now.
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Wednesday, January 27

inspiration: a snow white forest wedding

It's been a while since I rounded up fairytale wedding inspiration, so today I'm sharing some swoon-worthy images inspired by another of my favorite stories. The literary version of the Snow White story wasn't one I begged for as a child, but I've loved seeing modern interpretations, from Snow White and the Huntsman to Mary Margaret in Once Upon a Time that give Snow White more agency and power, and make her love story much more compelling. Today, I'm drawing on the Grimm brothers' original fairy tale to capture the innocent essence of the sweet princess.

Midnight Floral wedding invitations by Angela Marzuki from Minted | Docuvitae via Style Me Pretty

Once upon a time in the middle of winter, when the flakes of snow were falling like feathers from the sky, the queen sat by her window sewing, and the frame of the window was made of black ebony. And whilst she was sewing and looking out of the window at the snow, she pricked her finger with the needle, and three drops of blood fell upon the snow. The red looked so pretty upon the white snow that she felt no pain, and she thought to herself, "Would that I had a child as white as snow, as red as blood, and as black as the wood of the window-frame." Soon after that she had a little daughter, who was as white as snow, and as red as blood, and her hair was as black as ebony; and she was therefore called Snow White. 

As Snow White grew into womanhood, she grew more and more beautiful; and when the Queen asked her looking-glass —

"Looking-glass, Looking-glass, on the wall, Who in this land is the fairest of all?"

it answered—-

 "Thou art fairer than all who are here, Lady Queen."
 But more beautiful still is Snow-white, as I ween."

When the Queen's huntsman had drawn his knife, and was about to pierce Snow-white's innocent heart, she began to weep, and said, "Ah dear huntsman, leave me my life! I will run away into the wild forest, and never come home again."

And as she was so beautiful the huntsman had pity on her and said, "Run away, then, you poor child." It seemed as if a stone had been rolled from his heart, but now the poor child was all alone in the great forest, and so terrified that she looked at every leaf of every tree, and did not know what to do. Then she began to run, and ran over sharp stones and through thorns, and the wild beasts ran past her, but did her no harm.

She ran as long as her feet would go until it was almost evening; then she saw a little cottage and went into it to rest herself. Everything in the cottage was small, but neater and cleaner than can be told. There was a table on which was a white cover, and seven little plates, and on each plate a little spoon, seven little knives and forks, and seven little mugs. Against the wall stood seven little beds side by side, and covered with snow-white counterpanes.

The princess was so hungry and thirsty that she ate some vegetables and bread from each plate and drank a drop of wine out of each mug, for she did not wish to take all from one only. Then, as she was so tired, she laid herself down on one of the little beds, said a prayer and went to sleep.

When it was morning Snow White awoke, and was frightened when she saw the seven dwarfs. But they were friendly and she stayed with them. In the mornings they went to the mountains and looked for copper and gold, in the evenings they came back, told wonderful stories, and were quite merry.

When the apple was ready the Queen painted her face, and dressed herself up as a country-woman, and so she went over the seven mountains to the seven dwarfs' cottage. 

Snow White longed for the fine apple, and when she saw that the woman ate part of it she could resist no longer, and stretched out her hand and took the poisonous half. 

It happened that a king's son came into the forest, and saw the beautiful Snow White in her repose. And with his kiss, she opened her eyes, sat up, and was full of joy.  Snow White went with her prince, and their wedding was held with great show and splendour. 

Which of these fairytale-inspired details is your favorite?
Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, January 26

literary junkies - january 2016

Pink Heels Pink Truck

Here are this month's questions:

1. What are you reading right now? Tell us about it.

I just finished The Demon King, the first book in the Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima. It was recommended to me by one of my former students and two of my current students are reading the series along with me. I knew they were fantasy, but had put off starting the series for a while because I'd really assumed they were "boy books" (I was in a very female-focused reading mood for pretty much all of 2015), and this series seems to attract my guys when they've finished the Ranger's Apprentice or Percy Jackson books. I was surprised to find out that The Demon King actually has two main characters - one male and one female! Han Alister, the male lead, is a reformed street thief who was practically raised by the mountain clan who taught him their ways when he was a child and sheltered him from his enemies when he left street life behind. The book's conflict is introduced when Han and his friend confront three cocky young wizards fleeing a magical fire in the mountains and Han ends up with a frightening magical amulet. On the other side of the Queendom (yep) is our female lead, Princess Raisa, who has tasted clan life herself and is now back at court and finds herself courted by many suitors who send extravagant gifts. Raisa isn't interested in her suitors or in a hurry to marry - she longs for freedom and to reconnect with the friend who has just returned from military training.

2. Are you doing any reading challenges in 2016? Share them with us.

The only challenge I'm holding myself to is my Goodreads challenge, which I've upped to 50 books because I'm trying to read every day in 2016. There are a few challenge lists I'm going to look to for inspiration when I'm in a rut - from Modern Mrs. Darcy, Popsugar, Stxrybooks, and Worthington Ave. - and I'm also working my way through the Newbery Medal winners I missed between being a kid and teaching kids, as well as the AP novel list so I can help my students be better prepared for high school course work. I'm planning a fun post for next week with some ideas and recommendations for these challenges!

3. Have you discovered any new authors lately? 

In addition to digging Cinda Williams Chima's work in The Demon King, I've recently become obsessed with Sarah J. Maas and I'm plowing through the Throne of Glass series - I'm in fantasy euphoria land right now, basically. Both of these authors get an A+ in worldbuilding.

4. There are a ton of book to movie adaptations coming out this year. Are you excited for any in particular or disappointed in any?

I haven't read The 5th Wave yet - when I saw the movie trailer, my first thought was "is that the book from the book fair?" I remembered thinking it sounded like yet another Hunger Games knock-off when I showed the book trailer before the book fair rolled into the school media center, but now I'm thinking I should read it before all the kids want to (and they will - movies have a powerful impact on what kids want to read) so I'm not out of the loop!

I've heard nothing but good things about Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, so I'll be trying to get that one read before the movie comes out in March!

5. What is a book you were looking forward to reading and then had a complete let-down feeling when you finished?

I tend not to finish books that aren't doing it for me - life's too short! The last book I can remember truly feeling disappointed by was Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick - it was a Printz award winner and Carnegie Medal nominee, and the premise intrigued me - seven interwined stories taking place on a Scandinavian island that has been home to Vikings, vampires, ghosts, artists, and lovers, exploring the magical bond linking the characters. Unfortunately, the overarching mythology of the story didn't interest me and it felt like Sedgwick was having to work too hard to make the seven stories connect. I felt like he was aiming for a YA Cloud Atlas, but I don't think real teenagers could engage with most of the stories.

Monday, January 25

this week's clicks: i'm never gonna be that far...

get your week off to a colorful start...
  • My favorite new-to-me song of the week is British singer Joe Brooks' "Til My Heart Stops Beating." You can see the official video and listen to the whole song here.




Saturday, January 23

lately in entertainment.

lately in entertainment - winter 2016


The Mermaid's Sister - This book was charming in a way that reminded me of being read to as a child, and if the main character was a squirrel living in a dollhouse or the main character had a pet alligator I didn't question those things. It's a whimsical fantasy set in America in the 1800's (I think) and very different from the action-packed, dark paranormal romances that are so popular right now - it reminded me of Alice Hoffman's writing. The main character, innocent sixteen-year-old Clara, was dropped at her Auntie's mountain cottage by a stork, or so Auntie says. Her beautiful sister Maren, according to the stories Auntie tells, arrived in a seashell. Auntie just so happens to be a hedge witch with a pet wyvern. Though the family keeps to themselves to avoid freaking out the locals, they eagerly await visits from Scarff, an old trader with a wagon full of wonderful things, and his adopted son O'Neill, suddenly grown-up and handsome. Their cozy, offbeat lives are interrupted when Maren starts to become a mermaid - first, scales appear on her skin, then her legs begin to fuse into fins, and finally, she begins to shrink. Worried that she will die without the sea, Clara and O'Neill set out with Maren in a washtub. Along the way, they become tangled up with a traveling circus sideshow, its owners intent on keeping Maren as a star attraction, and Clara and O'Neill must outwit their captors. All the while, Clara struggles with her newfound feelings for O'Neill and her anxiety that she herself will someday become a stork and fly away.

Winter - I'd been waiting anxiously for the last book in the Lunar Chronicles series - Marissa Meyer had left us with so many cliffhangers in the third book, Cress, and added layers to the story in the prequel, Fairest. I've loved the way she weaves together the little details from each of the classic fairy tales - even the ones I'd forgotten since childhood - in a science fiction setting. I can't say much about the plot of Winter without giving away spoilers for the rest of the series. At the end of Cress, one character had been taken prisoner, another blinded, and Cinder had just added kidnapping to her list of crimes. This book's new character, Princess Winter, is Meyer's space-opera version of Snow White. She is beautiful, kind, scarred, and quite possibly insane - a side effect of her constant effort to suppress her inherited Lunar gift, mind control. Together, the characters must work to lead an uprising and defeat their common enemy, the evil Lunar Queen Levana. This book was filled with action, crazy plans that almost always went awry, Meyer's cheeky, Whedonesque humor, and enough romance to keep every ship afloat (Cress and Thorne 4EVA, y'all). There were a few times when I thought the book was almost over and then got surprised by how many pages were left (824 total)! I have loved this series, I'm very excited that it's been optioned for film, and I can't wait to see what Marissa Meyer does next.

Throne of Glass - I didn't fall into a funk after reading Winter because I quickly found a new YA series to obsess over, and I've been recommending it to all my fellow adult YA and fantasy lovers! I'd read about the Throne of Glass series on a few blogs and had actually had the first book sitting on my Kindle for a while, but hadn't been able to get into it. I finally pushed myself to get past the first few chapters, and I'm so glad I did! Here's the story: the main character, Celaena Sardothien, has been serving a brutal sentence in a salt mine when she is summoned by the captain of the king's guard and taken to the royal court. Formerly the most infamous assassin in the kingdom, Calaena has been chosen by the prince to compete in a contest the king is holding to choose a new Champion. By accepting, Calaena agrees to serve the king whose armies destroyed her people's homeland and way of life by outlawing magic - in exchange for her eventual freedom. Though she's been hardened by her years as a killer and abuse in the mines, Calaena begins to open up to Crown Prince Dorian, the captain of the guard who becomes her trainer and coach, and the mysterious foreign princess who has come to stay at court despite the tenuous balance between her country's freedom and the king's goal of complete domination.She also discovers that while magic may be illegal, it definitely isn't extinct. As
her opponents begin to fall victim to mysterious murders, Celaena and her newfound allies have to act quickly to investigate what evil is at work within the glass castle. I feel like Stefon from SNL when I tell people about Throne of Glass - "This series has everything: action, a sassy and intelligent heroine, PUPPIES, a playboy prince, romance, a brooding warrior, SHOPPING, fancy dress balls, swords, a library, magic, ghosts, and a secret passage!" 


Mockingjay Part 2 - My coworker Shannon and I stuck with our tradition of going to see the Hunger Games movies together after school. The movie does a great job of capturing the truly post-apocalyptic feel of the novel as Katniss, Gale, Peeta and their team make their way through the devastated Capitol to find and kill President Snow. The special and practical effects were great - one of the quirkiest characters from the book, Tigress, came to life perfectly on screen, and the Capitol's monsters were like something from a horror movie. Even though I knew the ending, the movie was full of suspense and included all of my favorite moments from the book.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens - I'm planning on seeing The Force Awakens again in IMAX, and I want to write a more detailed review/analysis after that. As a Star Wars fan since childhood, I was on the edge of my seat from the moment the Lucasfilm logo appeared on the screen, and got chillbumps when the yellow text finished scrolling and the camera dropped through space. A lot of critics have debated whether The Force Awakens is too similar to A New Hope in plot and pacing, but I thought the resonance made the story powerful, and I look forward to seeing Rey, Finn, and Poe continue their journey as the new heroes of the Star Wars universe.

Trainwreck - Finally got to see this total gem of a comedy. LeBron James cracked me up in every scene that he was in, and I was surprised by how actually sweet and real the relationship between Amy Schumer and Bill Hader was - I expected a raunchy comedy, but this one really did have a heart. Plus, no one told me John Cena played Amy's original boyfriend - you guys are all jerks.

Winter's Tale - This one had been lingering on our DVR for a while - I'd thought the trailers looked cool, but hadn't really been in the mood for Colin Farrell riding a pegasus through Victorian-era New York. I'm a sucker for the Victorian era and for magic, so I was quickly drawn in to the story of Farrell's character, a foundling on the run from a gang run by an actual demon played by Russel Crowe, falling in love with a spunky, privileged rich girl (think Rose from Titanic) who is dying of consumption after he tries to rob her house. The story takes a lot of strange turns, some of them kind of delightful (Will Smith plays Lucifer in a Jimi Hendrix t-shirt) and some of them just plain weird (Farrell's character's true love's father finally accepts him because he kept their house's boiler from exploding). While Winter's Tale has many gorgeous scenes and Farrell and Crowe play their characters well, the worldbuilding didn't seem quite solid enough for me to get on board.  I think I want to read the book this one is based on to see if it fills in the obvious gaps in the movie's plot.

What are you loving lately? Leave your recommendations in the comments!

Friday, January 22

#5FandomFriday - January 22nd - Favorite Ways to Netflix and Chill

5 Fandom Friday is a weekly prompt challenge hosted by The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space ChickThis week's #5FandomFriday topic is 5 Favorite Ways to Netflix and Chill. My middle schoolers would be having a field day with that topic, but I'm going to keep it simple with my favorite shows to stream and binge watch - usually while lesson planning or writing blog posts, thank you very much. 

Once Upon a Time (Netflix and Hulu) - ABC hasn't done the greatest job of marketing OUAT, in my opinion - I had always assumed it was a silly show because, well, wasn't it just something about grown-up Disney princesses? How exciting could a Disney show for adults be, and who was the target audience anyway? Well, apparently the target audience is actually me, because Netflix kept recommending the show to me based on other things I'd watched until finally I got bored enough to check it out. Before I knew it, I had watched four seasons and gone from being obsessed with Mary Margaret and Charming to being obsessed with Emma and Hook. OF COURSE IT'S A SILLY SHOW, A SILLY AWESOME BEAUTIFUL SHOW ABOUT TRUE LOVE AND MAGIC.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - A while back, I decided that the best way for me to become a better YA writer was to watch every single episode of Buffy ever, because obviously Joss Whedon is the master. This decision was probably a combination of procrastination and depression talking, but I completed my goal and relived the questionable fashion choices of the early 2000's. I may or may not have watched "Once More with Feeling" multiple times.

The Mindy Project (Hulu) - I am so glad Hulu picked up Mindy after FOX cancelled the show - Mindy Kaling is flipping the script on the traditional romantic comedy while still managing to get goofy jokes and physical slapstick into every episode. Comedy writing goddess.

Orange is the New Black (Netflix) - I'm not sure why I was so late to the game with this one, but I just started watching OITNB last summer and ended up binge-watching the whole series and reading the book it's based on. Now that I've read the book, I wish the show would directly address some of the more serious issues Kernan brings up a bit more, such as minimum mandatory sentences for drug-related offenses.

Jessica Jones (Netflix) - I had no doubt Marvel's newest project with Netflix would be amazing because everything they've touched so far has turned to gold, and with Agent Carter they've shown that they can build a show around a strong female character. I didn't know much about the plot of Jessica Jones going in, never having read the Alias series of comics, other than the bare bones fact that she was a former superhero turned private investigator and that the main villain was known as the Purple Man. I'd loved Krysten Ritter in Don't Trust the B and was pretty confident she could play a kick-ass action hero. The whole cast is fantastic - the show brings major star power with David Tennant as the twisted and truly scary Kilgrave and Carrie-Anne Moss (one of my original action girl crushes) as corrupt lawyer Jeri Hogarth. I loved the messed-up but fierce relationship between Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, the reluctant humanity she shows to her drug addict neighbor Malcolm, and her unbreakable friendship with Trish Walker, which is the real heart of the show and one of the best depictions of what having a best friend really means that I've ever seen on screen. Every Marvel Cinematic Universe and Marvel Studios production has been a slightly different genre - Thor is an epic fantasy romance, the Captain America films have featured Spielbergian action and political intrigue a la All The President's MenAnt-Man was a heist film, Agents of SHIELD is structured like a police procedural, Agent Carter is basically a female James Bond, and Daredevil is film noir. Jessica Jones is the darkest, most adult thing Marvel has given us so far, the characters' powers are the most believable, and its genre is straight-up psychological thriller. I quickly became addicted and yes, ended up binge-watching.

What are your favorite shows to stream (and binge)?

Wednesday, January 20

2016 moodboard.

Images, L-R: 1, 2, 3 | 4, 5, 6

This month, the theme for The Circle link-up at In Its Time was to create a moodboard for 2016. As I created my moodboard, I thought about how I want to 2016 to feel and what I want each day to look like. Here are some areas of my life I want to prioritize this year.

calm mornings

I've always been something of a night owl, but lately I've really been looking into how my sleep affects my overall health. My mornings are typically very rushed, and it doesn't help me start the day in a very nice mood. I'd like to be able to wake up earlier and spend some quiet time eating a "real" breakfast and actually enjoying my coffee, reading, doing a devotional, practicing yoga, writing in my journal, or setting goals for the day before I have to greet 30 teenagers!

nurturing my passions
  • Teaching - I love, love, love my job. I definitely want to be involved with teaching and/or working with young people for the rest of my life. However, I've gotten a little complacent lately - I've gone from being the new teacher who was constantly reading professional development books, taking classes, and attending conferences to being the veteran who recycles lesson plans and goes home to watch Netflix. To try to rekindle that flame, I've applied to several programs for this spring and summer that should help get me back on track. I really want to be a teacher who is always innovating and trying new things.
  • Writing - If someone had told me ten years ago that I wouldn't have published anything significant by the age of thirty, I probably would have gotten very depressed. My writing is another thing I think I've gotten complacent about - I use the busy-ness of my teaching job and personal writing, like blogging and Tumblr, to avoid writing for a purpose. Just like with exercise, if I don't make time to write creatively, it's not going to happen. What am I hiding from?

welcoming change

Change is scary to me, but my One Word for 2016 is horizon and when I look at the image of the girl facing the horizon, I see that she's facing the ocean and its ever-changing waves - one of my favorite places to be and one that I find incredibly calming. Change is a constant in life - in relationships, at work, and with our personal interests. I had to reevaluate some friendships in 2015, and gained a stronger sense of self (a little more about that here). Buying a house and being able to turn it into a place to welcome friends and family any time we want will be a big change. Moving to a new school for a semester will be a big change. I need to face the horizon rather than trying to run from it.

health and wellness
  • I'm not exaggerating when I say that yoga has changed my life - I'm calmer, more patient, and more centered, and as a nice side effect my body is leaner. I want to keep practicing yoga regularly (at home in addition to the class I attend) and challenge myself to try more difficult poses.
  • I've been working to improve my health and diet for almost four years now, since receiving my PCOS diagnosis, but nothing has been as helpful to me so far as the app that came with my Jawbone UP2 band (read more of my thoughts about the UP2 here) - the combination of tracking sleep, workouts, and food and positive reinforcement really seems to be working. I've tried various boot camps, diets, and cleanses, but none of them have really "stuck." Hopefully I'm on to something now!
  • One of the things I'm most looking forward to when we do move out of our current townhouse is being able to have a garden and grow our own vegetables. I grew up in a rural area and sometimes I just need a little dirt therapy.


The time has come for me to break through my social anxiety and find a place to pray and worship (I wrote a little more about this here). Ever since reading Rachel Held Evans' book Searching for Sunday last year (my review is here), I've been yearning for the kind of transformative experience she writes about. I don't want to be yet another millennial who left the church and never returned - unlike some people I know who thrive on solitary spiritual paths, I am just no good at staying in the Word on my own. I have been making excuses for far too long, and this needs to be the year I find a church home, even if that means going alone. I miss the sense of belonging and understanding that I had in college with my fellowship, small group, and close-knit church. As I've said before, I know that there's no "perfect" church, but there must be one out there (hopefully not too far away) that I can help make wonderful.


Monday, January 18

this week's clicks: i'll place the moon within your heart...

get your week off to a colorful start...
  • Something I've realized this week is that everyone has their own version of David Bowie - those who grew up in the 70's will always see him as Ziggy Stardust or the Thin White Duke, but to us 80's kids, he is first and foremost Jareth the Goblin King from Labyrinth. Grace Potter shared her lovely tribute to Bowie on YouTube this week.




Sunday, January 17

sunday simplicity.

“Some things you know all your life. They are 
so simple and true they must be said without 
elegance, meter and rhyme...they must be naked 
and alone, they must stand for themselves.” 
― Philip Levine

Friday, January 15

#5FandomFriday - January 15th - 5 Ways I Am Going To Take Chances In 2016 

5 Fandom Friday is a weekly prompt challenge hosted by The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space ChickThis week's #5FandomFriday topic is 5 Ways I Am Going to Take Chances in 2015, and I've enjoyed reading the other girls' responses to this prompt so far. I was finally able to come up with my own list after lots of thought! I decided to focus on ways to take chances in different areas of my life.


2016 is going to be a year of big changes at work! 8th grade English will be going from being a semester course to a year-long course (with the same 84 minute class periods) in order to better prepare our students for our very difficult state standardized test and their high school courses. I'm excited about having twice as much time with students - more than I've ever had before - because I'll be able to give them time for independent reading and we won't have to move on to new skills until they're ready. On the other hand, I'm very nervous about the change because it means I'll most likely be spending one semester on our other middle school campus, where I don't know very many people and which has a reputation for being very straight-laced. I've suggested an idea for a pilot program that would blend a high-level English class with one of our elective courses and several of the other English teachers really like it - we'll see what the rest of the faculty thinks when we meet this week.


I've been starting to really invest in my own health over the past few years, although I will be the first one to admit I'm bad at remembering to take care of me. I'm going to face my social anxiety by going to the gym more often for cardio, and I'm also considering signing up for a Couch to 5K program our local Parks and Rec department is offering - I have never liked running, so I would like to actually learn how to run properly.


I would love to find a church community to participate in, but I've used my anxiety as an excuse to spend Sunday mornings at home. I think I am going to just put myself out there and see which of my friends, family members and co-workers will invite me to their churches. I know that I got unbelievably lucky when I lived in Charlottesville and found the perfect church for me via Google. I also know that I might not necessarily find a church that meets all my "perfect church" expectations (simple facility, won't make me work in the nursery, doesn't think women belong in the kitchen, doesn't see depression as a lack of faith, diverse and inclusive), but that I might have to work to "be the change" within that community.


Where are you, dream house?

Mr. Q and I will hopefully be buying a house in 2016! The idea of moving out of our townhouse gives me very mixed emotions - on the one hand, I'm totally psyched to get out of this temporary arrangement. On the other hand, I really do love our cozy townhouse; it's perfect for us right now and I've gotten very spoiled living so close to work. Moving on to the next phase of grown-up life is scary.


I'd like to be able to stop referring to writing as a hobby and begin to truly pursue it as a career. I'm not very good at sticking to a writing schedule or being self-disciplined, and sometimes I worry that blog writing is actually taking me away from creative writing - you may see me taking a break from the blog for a while this year as I try to get more serious about my passion. My writing is kind of all over the place, but almost all of my stories have a fantasy element. I used to write poetry regularly and would like to get back into that as well. I don't know the first thing about submitting writing to magazines and such, so it's time to learn! My goal is to finish my portfolio and apply to the MFA program at Hollins College - even if I don't become a successful professional author, I think an MFA in creative writing will help me to be a better teacher of writing and a better mentor to new teachers.