Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011, What a Year it has been.

When I was little, I never believed it when people said that the older you got, the more quickly time began to pass. But boy, were they right. I literally feel like I just rang in 2011, and now it's almost over! Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans, right? I guess that's been proven to me. Last year, I attempted to sum up the major happenings of 2010, and it was fun to look back on this year. So, I'm doing it again. Here's your year in a flash: Part 2.

2011, a year of struggles.
Six people were killed when a man named Jared Loughner began shooting outside of a political event in Arizona. One of his bullets landed in the skull of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who held the entire country's attention through her miraculous recovery. Several more lives were lost due to an insane amount of natural disasters including flooding in Australia and Brazil, and a devastating earthquake in Japan that almost collapsed the entire country. Another, much smaller earthquake centered in Virginia was felt all the way here in North Carolina. That Earthquake put a crack in the foundation of the Washington monument, which is now closed to visitors. Several devastating tornadoes tore through the southern US, leaving thousands with nothing. Our entire world was held enraptured by the news of protests in Egypt this year. Facebook and other social networking sites were used as a political instigator and caused an entire country to be cut from world communication. Eventually, the Egyptian president resigned, and major changes began to take place all over that part of the world. Libya and Syria began to have revolts and uprisings that also captured the attention of the world. Resounding shouts of joy were heard all around as a headline broke announcing the death of terrorist leader, Osama Bin Laden. He was hunted for nine and a half years, and his death was long awaited by many. Life as we knew it will be no more... it's for sure, nothing will ever be the same again.

2011, a year of advancement.
With every year that passes, the things people come up with blows my mind. From medical science that is curing more and more diseases than ever before, to technological science that is able to create the iPhone 4s. Do you know what that does? It allows you to TALK into your phone, ask it a question, and receive the answer. Just like that. Seriously?! That's insanity. People have come up with interactive mirrors, paint that can be used as magnets, white boards, and chalk boards. Facebook has taken over the world, and is being used more than any other social networking site. It's insane the amount of achievements that have been accomplished in the past year!

2011, a year of goodbyes.
This year, we've lost many. The recent death of Kim Jong-il caught the world by surprise, and has left us with much uncertainty for the future of one of the members of our global community. One of the greatest minds of all time, inventor and entrepreneur Steve Jobs, left behind one of the largest legacies ever. He invented one of the most well-known and used product lines in history that continues to change technology as we know it. If you know anything about the world of jazz, you're probably aware that the jazz world lost one of its legends, Sam Rivers. The world of journalism lost the great Tom Wicker from the New York Times family. You know that pink ribbon that you relate to breast cancer awareness? Well, that is partly due to the late Evelyn Lauder, who also helped found Estee Lauder. The famous British singer Amy Winehouse had a tragic death at the age of 27. Ever heard of Sherwood Schwartz? I hadn't either, but I definitely know his work. He's the man that created The Brady Bunch as well as Gilligan's Island! Another great mind that 2011 saw part from this world.

2011, a year of milestones.
This year, so much has changed. The past is no more, but life is meant for that. What would we do if it all remained the same? Well, this year we saw many movements begin that instigated huge change. From the On September 17, Occupy Wall Street was born and is now a major cause supported all over the country. The whole world watched as the fairytale wedding of Britain's royal Prince William and Kate Middleton sent all girls back into the princess dreams of childhood. The United States took a moment to pause and reflect on an event that changed our country forever... 9/11. This year marked the 10 year anniversary, and the new memorial sitting where the twin towers once were opened up. The space shuttle Atlantis touched down at the Kennedy space center, marking the end of the US space shuttle program. The Cardinals beat out the Rangers for the World Series title. Our country has officially marked an end to the Iraq war. So many huge happenings.

2011, a year of experiences.
This year held a lot of firsts for me. I got to travel out of the US on a cruise with one of my very best friends, Chelsea. We cruised Carnival and we took a jeep tour of Cozumel, Mexico, went cave tubing in Belize, visited Hell, a turtle farm, and a sting ray bay in Grand Cayman, and a beautiful beach in Honduras! I also went on a fabulous band trip to NYC in the spring! Band as I knew it came to a halt as our beloved director of 25 years resigned his position and took a job at the middle school. We got a new director, which instituted a lot of change and new experiences, but we got so lucky. We have a new fantastic director that has helped make my senior year fantastic. I ended my high school marching career with two first place trophies, including one at App, and one at North Davidson where we also won Grand Champion! And how were we rewarded? With a broken down bus, of course! Fantastic times. I went to prom with a fabulous group of people, and applied and got accepted to several colleges. I completed a Lent season where I gave up Tea, Soda, and Facebook. I met and gained a fantastic family at Hickory Girls Fitness, where I became involved in the biggest most amazing dance party with Zumba. Those people have been my motivation, my safe haven, and my favorite part of the week for the several months I've been involved with them. I love them more than words! I've become more serious about my photography. I've hurt more than I thought I would, but I've also experienced the most intense joy I've ever had either. Tears and hugs, laughter and hope. This year's been amazing. It blows my mind to think of how different I am now from what I was this time a year ago. I'm excited about it!

2012, a year of opportunity.
In a short time, we will stand with friends and family gathered around us and ring in yet another year. So hard to believe that 2012 is actually here. I've waited for this year for a long time. It's the year I begin an entire new chapter in my life, and I'm scared to death. But I'm also thrilled. It's going to be amazing, wonderful, unexpected, and changing. This time of year is a tradition to us now. We expect the falling ball, the crowds, the kisses, the time of excitement. It never gets old, you know? What are we going to do with this clean slate we have in front of us? We have 365 days awaiting us to be filled with memories and moments. What will we put in each of them? It's our choice! How thrilling. As far as resolutions goes, I have several. The usual cliche ones, sure: Work on being healthier. Be happier. Love more. Take more pictures. Write more. Pray more. Read more. Worry less. Stress less. Waste less time. Invest in people more. But my main resolution? I want to live this year. I want to savor every single moment possible, and live each second to its fullest. I want to work on some of my bucket list. I want to meet and love as many people as possible.

So, I guess that's it. 2011, you've been amazing. It's been a struggle at times, but a joy more often than not. I'm going to look back on you and smile, that's for sure. Thank you for everything you've been for me, and for wrapping me up and holding me inside your days. Thanks for never giving up on me, and for carrying me through the rough patches. Let's always remember to hope and dream and aspire to be the best we can be, whenever we can be. Let's be thankful for what we have, and for whatever may come our way this year. 2012, please don't disappoint. Please be the year my dreams and wishes come true.

Let's go into 2012 taking the advice of Ralph Waldo Emerson and "Write it on your heart that every day is going to be the best day of the year." Here we go... cheers to the coming year... cheers to the best year yet!


Friday, December 30, 2011

A New Year's Eve (Eve) Reflection on 2011.

Heyy, old friend. I've missed you.

20 Questions for a New Year's Eve Reflection

1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year?
Well, that's hard to choose. I've had a lot of good happen to me this year, all completely undeserved. But probably the best thing to happen was that I learned how to survive. I learned how to trust, and how to hope, and how to be held when I couldn't hold on anymore. They are moment-by-moment lessons, but they are lessons that I am beyond grateful for.

2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened?
I've struggled pretty hard this year emotionally. It's been rough, but I'm still here. Just taking life a moment at a time. Hopefully, this will work out soon!

3. What was an unexpected joy this past year?
The huge amount of joy that I get from being a part of the HGF family is something I never could have imagined. Zumba class may sound just ordinary or kind of silly, but it's not like that at all... it's so, so much more than that there. I've gained an amazing family that supports me in ways that I'd never felt supported before, and I'm getting healthy at the same time. It's a huge stress reliever, and it's an entire hour that I don't have to be present in the 'real world'. They make me feel like I belong somewhere, and that's so much more than I ever thought I would have. It's one of the biggest gifts I've ever received. If you want to come, let me know. Because you definitely should!

4. What was an unexpected obstacle?
I didn't really expect to have the medical struggles I've had this year. I've been through a lot medically, from thyroid to ear to GI to back issues, my body's been through it. But, it's sticking with me, and I'm lucky to have an amazing team of doctors by my side.

5. Pick three words to describe 2011.
Beautiful, Worthwhile, Changing.

6. Pick three words your spouse/best friend would use to describe your 2011 (don't ask them;
guess based on how you think they see you).
Difficult, Fabulous, Different.

7. Pick three words your spouse/best friend would use to describe their 2011 (again, without
New, Challenging, Hopeful.

8. What were the best books you read this year?
I actually slacked off on my reading this year... :/ With school, I just haven't had any time! But, I read The Help by Katherine Stockett. It was fabulous, and I recommend it to anyone who hasn't read it or seen the movie. It fills in a lot of holes for the movie, so you need to read it. I also read Tour de Force by Elizabeth White. If you have any sort of a passion for Dance or for God, read this book. It's fantastic. I have it, and you can definitely borrow it from me. Right now I'm reading a Sarah Dessen book. She's my favorite author ever. If you haven't read any of her work, you have to. I recommend reading all of her books. (:

9. With whom were your most valuable relationships?
Probably my family. We've gotten a lot closer this year. And, as we know, family can be acquired. So, my acquired family is definitely included in this. My best friends and my HGF family, along with my studio family have kept me going this year. They bless me so much more than they know!

10. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year?
I cut loose a lot this year. I stopped being so uptight, and started living my life. I started to be me, and do what I knew would make me happy, rather than try to please everyone else on the face of planet earth. I've learned a lot about how to say no, and how to just be every now and then. It's funny what you learn when you aren't really looking for a lesson.

11. In what way(s) did you grow emotionally?
I struggled a lot emotionally, as I mentioned earlier. I've fought some pretty rough battles with myself this year. There have been a lot of sleepless nights in 2011. But each of these nights has taught me many lessons. I've learned a lot about passion, and the fact that I'm passionate about a lot of things. Loving intensely all the time can be difficult, but I've found that it's worth it. This year has marked the beginning of me learning how to stand on my own two feet emotionally. I've got a long way to go, but I'm trying.

12. In what way(s) did you grow spiritually?
God and I are in a new place this year. I've learned that my faith is not based in 'church', but rather in a real, loving, exciting, surprising, faithful God. I've been mad, so very mad, but every time He brings me back. He's surprised me in ways that I never could have imagined, and he's made me giggle a time or two. He's my Daddy, and regardless of what goes on in the institution of 'church', we're going to make it through. Together. Because I can't do it without Him.

13. In what way(s) did you grow physically?
I'm becoming a healthier person. I exercise more than I ever have, and I'm eating a more healthy, balanced diet. The scales don't move much, but I feel healthier, I'm stronger, and I'm losing inches! So, I'm very excited. This is also a goal of 2012 for me-- to continue the journey!

14. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others?
I've become more intentional about investing in people this year. I try my best make sure people understand how wonderful they are because that's an easy thing to forget. I've spent so many years believing that I'm un-wonderful, and I'm working like heck to make sure that no one else feels that way. Not on my watch, anyway. Everyone deserves someone to remind them that they are beautiful, wonderful, smart, kind, and more important than they could imagine. If someone does something that changes me, I make sure that they know it. People need to be made aware of the good that they do in the world, and I feel like no one ever talks about that. So, I do. I remind people that they are fabulous, and loved. At least by me. I know that isn't much, but it's what I can offer. I tell people good morning, and I make sure I say 'I appreciate YOU' rather than just 'I appreciate it', because that is two completely different things. I've seen so many people regret not telling someone something before they died, and I'm not going to do that. I'm going to make sure that people know how I feel about them. So many people feel like the world has walked out on them, that everyone has given up on them, and that they aren't even worth it anymore. I know that feeling all too well. I made it my goal to make sure that other people don't have to feel that way. I don't want to be just another person that gave up on whoever. No, I want to be the person that never gives up on anyone. I believe in miracles, and people surprise you. Now... exit soapbox. Sorry!

15. What was the most enjoyable part of your work (Both professionally and at home)?
The most enjoyable part of school for me has been band, by far. Those people make that 7 hour day Monday-Friday worth getting up for. I adored being Drum Major. I got to know and invest in so many people and lives that way. It was wonderful. And ending the season with a Grand Champion? More amazing than I could have wished for! As far as home goes, I haven't been here much. But love it when I am. I love my family, crazy as we may be. It's never a dull moment here (:

16. What was the most challenging part of your work (Both professionally and at home)?
The most challenging part of school is dealing with people who have no sense. Like at all. It amazes me, actually. How does one acquire the ability to have no sense? I guess we'll never know. And people that have no regard for others. How can you not care about another human being, and how can you be so rude all the time?! That's another mystery to me. At home, it can be a little difficult because by the time we all arrive here, we're exhausted, and there's not much time left in the day. But, we make it work!

17. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?
The computer. Between social networking and researching photog techniques, I've probably spent days on this thing. It's a great tool, but I intend to cut back drastically.

18. What was the best way you used your time this past year?
Investing in people. If you want to know why I do it, go back to number 14. And being able to serve and help my community and the world around me has been a huge blessing in my time this year.

19. What was the biggest thing you learned this past year?
I learned that life moves quickly, and if you don't live in the day-to-day moments, you lose them. I've learned that loneliness isn't forever. I've learned that wishing on stars doesn't solve the problem, but it sure does give you hope. I've learned that it's okay to hope. I've learned that life throws curve balls, and that you have to be ready to swing as they come. I've learned that life is happening, right this very second, and I don't want to miss out on it.

20. Create a phrase or statement that describes 2011 for you.
This year has been amazing and beautiful. When all of the joy and heartache come together, we come up with a glorious stained glass window that will now be used as filter the rest of my life. I've both learned and taught, laughed and cried, sang and danced, written and spoken. I've experienced new things, places, and people. And I've lost many of those same things that were dear to my heart. This year has helped shape me, and make me who I am to become one day. Thank you, 2011. I'll never, ever forget you♥


Monday, December 26, 2011

Princess Survey - Belle!

Disney Princess Survey


[] You’ve kissed someone your friends didn’t like.
[x] You’ve been lost in the forest.
[x] You love to read.
[x] You are not shy at all.
[x] One of your family members is a bit weird.
[x] You have done volunteer work.
[x] You have a wild imagination.
[x] You love to take care of people in need.
[] You’ve had guys like you only because they think you’re pretty.
[x] You’ve rejected at least one person when they’ve asked you out.
Total: 8


[] You’re an orphaned child or have an evil mother.
[x] You have many different hobbies to keep you busy.
[x] You can get really bored.
[] You have very long hair.
[] Your hair is/was bright blonde.
[x] You’re an artsy person.
[x] You’re childish.
[x] You can’t wait to stop the same routine each day and start living.
[x] You care about others and their feelings.
[x] You like to follow the rules.
Total: 7


[] You have/had a pet rabbit.
[x] You love to play cards.
[] You constantly know the time.
[x] You get yourself in sticky situations.
[] You have been to a court.
[x] You have fallen asleep while doing your homework.
[x] You have had a tea party.
[x] You like hats.
[x] You’re late.
[] You know how to play croquet.
Total: 6


[] Your dad is rich.
[] You are very clever.
[] You’ve been with someone way different from you.
[x] You’d never marry someone just because they were rich.
[x] You have set a lot of goals for yourself.
[x] You don’t have a lot of (good) friends.
[x] You’re independent.
[] You are wealthy.
[] Your parents try to control your life.
Total: 4


[x] Your boyfriend/crush is strong.
[] You have gotten involved with the wrong people before.
[x] You are very convincing.
[] You have fallen in love before.
[x] You have had your heart broken.
[] You find an interest in Greek mythology.
[x] You lie sometimes.
[x] You pretend to be someone you’re not.
[] You have been used.
[x] Purple is one of your favorite colors.
Total: 6


[x] Your parents expect a lot from you.
[x] You really try to follow the rules, but it’s hard for you.
[] You’re a bit of a trouble maker.
[x] You love to swim.
[] Your favorite animal is some sort of sea creature.
[x] You collect something.
[] You have/had long red hair.
[x] You are adventurous.
[x] You’re extremely curious.
[x] You believe everything people tell you/you’re a bit gullible.
Total: 7


[] You live/have lived with someone other than your parents.
[x] You almost died at a very young age.
[x] You are gentle, loving, and/or thoughtful.
[] You have a decent singing voice.
[x] You like to sleep in late on the weekend.
[x] You spend most of your time outside.
[] You’re adopted.
[x] You’re very romantic.
[] Pink is one of your favorite colors.
Total: 5


[] One of your parents is dead.
[] You are expected to do a lot of chores.
[x] You love to dress up.
[x] You love animals.
[x] You are waiting patiently for your Prince Charming.
[] Your mom is really strict.
[] You have sisters who seem kind of jealous of you.
[x] You’re afraid to speak your mind sometimes.
[x] You have left your shoes at a friend’s house before.
[] You have/had blonde hair.
Total: 5

Snow White

[] Sometimes it seems like your mom is jealous of you.
[] You’ve almost been killed.
[x] You have at least seven good friends.
[] You’ve had food poisoning.
[x] You have/had short hair.
[x] You get along with almost everyone.
[x] All of your friends are different.
[x] You love to have a good time.
[x] You’re happier when you’re out of the house than in.
Total: 6


[] You get jealous easily.
[x] You loved your childhood.
[x] You like to fly.
[x] You believe in magic.
[] You’re 5’2” or under.
[] You hate pirates.
[x] You love sparkles.
[] People underestimate you.
[] You get angry easily.
[x] You have/had a treehouse.
Total: 5


[x] You love to walk around and explore big cities.
[] You are more spiritual than religious.
[] You’ve been in an interracial relationship.
[x] One of your family members is dead.
[x] Your parents are very protective of you.
[] Someone you know has been in the war.
[x] You love nature.
[] You have/had black hair.
[x] You would love to move somewhere exotic and beautiful.
[x] You’re very adventurous.
Total: 6


[x] You can be a tomboy sometimes.
[] People wish you could be a bit more girly.
[x] You’ve pretended to be someone you’re not.
[] You’ve had a physical fight with someone.
[x] You have/had considered running away from home.
[] Your parents try to plan your life out.
[x] A lot of your friends are boys.
[x] You sometimes find yourself in bad situations.
[x] You love your family so much that you’d do anything to protect them
Total: 6

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas is a State of Mind.

There's just something about this time of year.

Between the presents and the laughter and the lights and the parties... all of the sudden life looks a little bit softer around the edges.

There is so much cynicism now. People claim that Christmas has become too 'commercialized' and that there is no longer that true joy that lies with the holiday, only stress. But I beg to differ. Have you heard about the anonymous people who are paying other people's layaway gifts at KMart? Or how about the person who put $50,000 into one of the Salvation Army buckets outside of a store? Christmas Spirit is alive and well, all you have to do is look for it. Christmas Spirit is a choice, and one that anyone can make at any time. It doesn't have to be stressful if you don't want it to be... just make it joy-filled. Choose to have your heart be joyful instead of stressed. Believe me, it is possible.

There's something about the season that takes us back to a child-like state. We remember our first Christmas. It was perfect, wasn't it? Santa came and brought you exactly what you asked for, or something that was even better that you didn't think to ask for. Your whole family was there. Everyone was laughing and smiling and the food was delicious. The memory makes you smile right now, doesn't it? And every single year, Christmas time brings back a bit of that magic. That hope that springs from a faith in things unseen. Even as we grew up, and we learned about the happenings of Christmas Eve, somewhere the hope and faith lingered, and that hope is rekindled with the spark of plugging in those Christmas Tree lights.

That's what I love so much about Christmas. For an entire season, I'm reminded of all that matters in this world- God and People. The most amazing gift we could have asked for was delivered 2000 years ago in a stable in Bethlehem. That story never ceases to amaze me. How astounding that the God of all the universe chose to be with us. And now, in order to celebrate His life and the greatest gift of all, we take time out of our everyday lives to cherish those we love most. We buy gifts that show others that they mean a lot to us. We have parties and dinners and gatherings that allow us to enjoy simply doing life together. That's a gift that can't be replaced.

Who says that Christmas isn't what it should be? I challenge that person to look around. Stop, right now, right where you are, and look around. Think of all of the people that love you, and that you love. Think of all of the good that is still left in this world. I challenge you to step back into that child-like faith. Believe again. Show the world that good... that Christmas Spirit... still exists and is thriving today. Be Christmas. Allow that joy to overcome you again. Soak up every moment of the time you spend with those you love, and bury it in your memory treasure chest. Let's let this be the Best Christmas Yet. After all, we have been given the greatest gift of all!

Merry Christmas.


Sunday, December 11, 2011


I love Christmas lights.

That is all.


Friday, December 9, 2011

Five Minute Friday

Today's Topic: Color.


It amazes me how a simple color can have the most profound meanings sometimes.

For me, it's Purple.

Purple has gotten me through a lot. It represents the hope that I cling to when all else seems to fail, and the peace that passes all understanding. Purple reminds me of family and friends that stood by me in some of my most difficult times. Purple makes me smile to think that I am lucky enough to be so loved. Purple reminds me that the tears that are falling will not last forever. Purple makes me giggle to think of all the silly inside jokes that we have together. Purple represents healing, imagination, determination, strength, and courage. Purple feels like a hug. Purple looks like a painted wall, a simple flower, a bracelet with a reminder to be seen on a regular basis. Purple is magic.

Purple helps me hold on to hope until tomorrow.


Thursday, December 8, 2011


Today was a good day.

This, however, was a far cry from Thursday's friends: Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. No, they weren't bad days. Just not good days. Tuesday even came equipped with a breakdown. In the middle of the school day. Classy, right?! Oh well. Life moves on (:

I really don't have a theme for this post. No witty sayings on the tip of my tongue. I'm not even really aiming at being encouraging. I'm just being me, and making a list of things that I don't really want to forget, but that would be easy to. So, if you care to read: My life, numbered:

1. I have a project due on Tuesday that I just cannot seem to find the motivation to do. It's just an 8-15 minute presentation, but still. I'm really just ready for Christmas break!

2. It hit me the other day that I will be performing in my last ever Holiday concert this coming week. Wow. Time really does fly.

3. I have a tumblr, and I'm addicted, and I'm not sad about that.

4. I have a passion for movement. I never feel as amazing as I do when I am moving. Dancing, walking, conducting, anything. Especially dance, for me, though. I love the way I feel when I dance. It's like the purest form of joy. God honored me with a gift of a body, and in my opinion, dance is a perfect way to celebrate that gift. The things that the human body is able to do amazes me. Just think about all of the millions of cells that have to work together in milliseconds of time just to allow us to function. It's a miracle, and by dancing, I am thanking Him for that miracle. He's given me more than I could have wished for.

5. I love my family. A lot. We're crazy, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

6. Family doesn't just include those related to you. Family is about those that you are connected to at a heart level that cannot be broken. Those that love you regardless of what you may do, and those that are able to sing the song in your heart to you when you think you have forgotten.

7. I know I talk about it a lot, but it's only because it literally is that amazing. I'm in love with Zumba, and the place in which I am blessed enough to be able to attend classes. We have the best instructors in the world, and I love them with all of my heart. They make me want to be a better person. HGF, Hickory Girls Fitness, has literally become a home for me. It's my 'place'. When I'm there, I don't have to be anything. I'm not the Drum Major/Senior/Oldest Dance Member/Beta Club Member/Sunday School Teacher/Daughter/Sister/WhateverElse.... I'm just me, in the simplest form. I don't have to lead, or be in charge, or set an example. I'm a part of something much bigger than myself. And nothing gives me more joy than performing, so the opportunity to be on a stage with people I dearly love is amazing. It's more of a blessing than I could put into words.

8. If you make up your mind, any day has the potential to be a good day. But, you have to be the one to make up your mind. It won't be done for you.

9. Tell people thank you. Tell people you appreciate THEM, not just whatever they may be doing. Tell people that you love them. Tell them that their hair looks nice and that the top they are wearing flatters them well. Tell people that they're worth it.

10. For today, I'm just living. I'm soaking up every last moment I can before life moves on. This is today, and this is me. Love you guys (:


Monday, December 5, 2011


Can you believe it's already December? So crazy. I know I can't . When did 2011 go by? Not that I'm not excited, but it just seems to have flown. All my memories are running together now. Life is still crazy busy, so I apologize for the lack of posting on here for the forthcoming future. I'm still here, and still reading, and I'll post occasionally. I hope you are all having a wonderful beginning to your holiday season, and are enjoying all the festivities that come with the most wonderful time of the year! (: I kicked my season off well... helping Santa as one of his elves! Nothing quite like becoming an elf to get you into the Christmas Spirit!

How did you kick off your holiday season?
Love you!


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thankfulness. 30.


I am thankful for this month, and the daily reminder to be thankful in all things. I hope to keep this attitude of gratitude as I continue forward into the rest of my life. I appreciate those of you who read these entire thirty days of thanks. I have so, so much to be thankful for, I am overwhelmed just thinking about it! So, thank you November for the amazing reminder you bring. Hello, December! Legggoooo (:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thankfulness. 29.


I am thankful for my parents. Even though they frustrate me sometimes, they mean well and genuinely want what is best for me. I couldn't ask for a better set of people to be raised by. I owe them more than I could ever repay, and they love me unconditionally. They're my heroes!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thankfulness. 28.


I am thankful for movies. They give a good get-away for two hours. It's so easy to step into the character's lives and live as they do for the duration of the story. They are also a great way to enjoy time with special people. Some of my fondest memories are related to movies. I'm going to quit rambling. Movies are great.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thankfulness. 27.


I am thankful for people who help me hold my head up, especially when I don't think I can. I have several of those people, and I wouldn't be here without them. Thanks, you guys. You know who you are.

* I don't do this very often, but I'm asking you to please pray for me. I'm a little lost right now, and very much floundering. So, just pray for wisdom and a peace for my heart. Thanks.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thankfulness. 26.


I am thankful for quotes. They provide a therapy for me that is beyond comprehension. I can always find a quote to explain myself, and it reminds me that I'm not alone in this crazy world. (:

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thankfulness. 25.


I am thankful that God chooses to keep his promises in spite of me. He keeps me going every single day, and I wouldn't be here without him. I love my Abba more than words, and I literally could talk forever. You want to hear about him? Let's talk (:

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankfulness. 24.


I am thankful for my family. My crazy, dysfunctional, lovable, quirky, amazing family. And see, for me, family doesn't just stop with those that I am related to, even though they are a huge part of my life. Family is those that are in for the duration of this crazy life. Those people that do life with you, accept you regardless, and love unconditionally. True, we argue. We bicker and fuss and have our little spats, but the bond we share is so much stronger than that. I'm blessed to have a family that sees each other more than once a year, and a family that supports me in all that I choose to do. I have the best family ever, if I do say so myself. I wouldn't trade them for anything, and they are a huge part of what makes life amazing. From my biological family, to my HGF family, to my studio family, to my church family, to my band family... I love you with all of my heart and soul♥

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankfulness. 23.


I am thankful for my graduating class. I seriously cannot believe it is almost time to graduate. It has flown by in so many ways when I never imagined it would. I am so blessed to live where I do and to attend the amazing school that I do. True, there are days when I am beyond ready to graduate, but overall, I'm loving every minute of it. These are the people I have grown up with, shared many memories with, and love with all my heart. And even for those who have moved away, I still consider them part of our class. I love all of them so much. Class of 2012!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thankfulness. 22.


I am thankful for amazing musicians like these two who create music that gets into my soul and helps me through the day. Ben Rector and Matt Wertz are both fantastic, but together? Absolutely phenomenal!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thankfulness. 21.


I am thankful for my amazingly wonderful pen pal and dear friend, Xenia. She lives in China now, but will soon be back in the states with us, and I cannot wait for that day. I miss her so much. She's one of the best people I've ever met and one of the few reasons that I survived last year at all. She got me through a whole lot of the darkness that set into my life last year, and in a lot of ways, she didn't even know that she was helping me. I love her a lot, and I cannot wait to see her again♥

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thankfulness. 20.


Today, I am thankful for my church family. Throughout my entire childhood, WBC has given me several amazing memories... several of which were brought up today. I just wanted to say thank you to everyone that was involved in making my childhood so amazing in children's ministry. Worthy is the Lamb!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thankfulness. 19.

I am thankful for my camera, and for pictures that absolutely require that you take them. I love stuff like that. Like these... hard to guess I was in a red and white mood today, no? (:

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thankfulness. 18.


I am thankful for my wonderful best friend/sister/other half/twin/mostamazingpersonIknow.
Sarah Nicole, you mean the absolute world to me. I literally have no idea what I would do without you. You are so special in so many ways, and you are going to be amazing at changing the world one day. You seriously are my other half, and I would go crazy without at least one person who understands me. You're the best friend a girl could ask for, and I'm excited to see what is in store next for us! I love you!♥

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thankfulness. 17.


I am thankful for dance. I started dance classes when I was four years old, and here I am 14 years later and I still love it just as much, if not more than then. I joined my current studio at age six, and I've never felt more at home in one place. We've been through a lot together, my studio family and I, and I wouldn't trade any of them for the world. They're my heroes, my family, and my backbone. I'll carry them with me in my heart forever and always. Dance is one of my passions, and it is my escape from the rest of the world. I literally wouldn't be here today without it. So, I'm thankful for dance and for my Studio family. I love you all so much♥

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thankfulness. 16.


I am thankful for AP Euro, even though it tends to stress me out sometimes! I still love it! And the hilarious projects it holds, and the fact that it makes me laugh all the time. Deuces-From Karl Marx (:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thankfulness. 15.


I am thankful for my very dearly loved one-of-a-kind friend, Ms. Kaleigh Elizabeth. I love you to the moon and back girl. We've been best friends since preschool, and I still love her to pieces. She's my hero. (: Love you boo!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thankfulness. 14.


I am thankful for exercise, and the ability to do it. I worked out with our awesome trainer today, and then followed it by three straight hours of dance. Exhausted? Absolutely. But in a fabulous way! (:

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Thankfulness. 13.


I am thankful for Sundays. And Bracelets. And long sleeved tee shirts and sweat pants. And sticky notes. And long hair. And blue eyes. And life in general♥

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Thankfulness. 12.


I am thankful for autumn. The weather, cozy coats, warm drinks, football games, bonfires, hugs, and the family feel that it so neatly encloses just makes me smile (:

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thankfulness. 11.


I'm thankful for wishes. Today was the perfect day to wish. 11/11/11 at 11:11. Best wish ever.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thankfulness. 10.


Today, I am thankful for quotes like this that remind me to live my life. I love words, and Words of Affirmation is one of my main love languages. I love being able to touch others through words, and I love when words touch me, like these above. Such a great reminder and a wonderful quote!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thankfulness. 09.


I'm thankful for the home to which this key allows me to enter, and I'm thankful for the many smiles this key has brought me!


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Thankfulness. 08.


I am so thankful for Hope, and the way it absolutely gets me through. It's beyond my favorite word, any my favorite thing to cling to when all else seems to have faded. Hope got me through a lot, and it continues to do so on a very regular basis.

"When the world whispers 'Give it up'
Hope whispers 'Try it one more time.' "

Monday, November 7, 2011

Thankfulness. 07.


I am thankful for my sister! She can be really crazy, and we can argue like champs, but overall she's pretty cool. And I've always got her back, so you better not mess with her. Ever. I love you, Loo!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thankfulness. 06.


I am thankful for sleep. And my bed. Sleep is seriously one of my favorite things in this world. I'm pretty much in love with it (:

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Thankfulness. 05.

No picture. Sorry.


I am thankful for things that remind me of being a kid. Like coloring books, playdough, glow sticks, princesses, silly putty, cute old cartoons, etc. They make me smile a lot, and it's the little things like that that make life so fabulous.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Thankfulness. 04.


I am SO thankful for the opportunity to experience Seize the Photo this year. Cathy, the photographer, is absolutely amazing in every way possible. We have so much in common it's crazy, and she means the world to me. She's a fabulous photographer, and I'm definitely jealous of her ability! I literally can't say enough. I mean, just look at the magic she did to my Senior Pictures! LOVE! <3 I'm thankful for the chance to have her in my life, and I love her a lot!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thankfulness. 03.


I'm thankful for rainy days. They make me feel all cozy and comfy. And, just as a plus, I get to wear rain boots and go splash in puddles. How could I not be happy after that?!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Thankfulness. 02.


I am oober thankful for my TOMS! I have fallen in love with a shoe brand... I'll admit to it. They are seriously the most comfortable, most amazing shoes ever. I highly recommend them to you if you don't have any! Just go to!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Thankfulness. 01.

This month, in honor of Thanksgiving, I plan to share one thing I'm thankful for every day. It's a lot of fun and very theaputic. You should give it a try, too!


I am thankful for every single Friday Night football game I have had the opportunity to be a part of for the past three years! Those are memories that will last a lifetime!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Five Minute Friday

I'm back this week, I've missed these! (: Come join us!

Today's Topic: Beyond.


This life I've been chosen to live? Far, far beyond my wildest dreams. I never could have imagined that I would love my life so much so many different times.
I never thought I would conduct a band and be more proud of them than I ever have of anyone else.
I never thought I would keep up with dancing for 14 years... and be good at it.
I never thought I would appreciate my family so much for standing by me and loving me in spite of me.
I never thought God would show up in the many, many ways He has.
I never thought I'd learn the lessons I've learned through the rough times.
I never thought I would be in the top 10% of my graduating class.
I never thought I would be friends with some of the people who are now dearest to me.
I never thought I would fall in love with music the way I have.
I never thought God had that large of a plan for me.

If God had left me to planning my own life, it wouldn't be nearly this good. Every day He continues to show me His grace and mercy, and that reaches far beyond my mind. I'm so thankful, and so blessed to have the Abba I do. He continues to remind me in ways far beyond my wildest dreams. (:



Thursday, October 20, 2011


Yet another unexpected answered prayer.
God knew exactly what He was doing,
and how to surprise me as always.
But alas, that's another story for another day.
For today, though,
I love this life<3

Monday, October 17, 2011


So, I really want to be deep and philosophical today and tell you all of the things that have been on my mind lately... catch you up on the many, many lessons I have been learning these past few weeks that have been some of the most humbling weeks ever... but I'm really not feeling it. To be quite honest, I am completely and totally exhausted. And in great need of a good night's rest. But, I'm loving this life I'm living, and I'm cherishing every last second that I'm given. I'll be deep soon, I pinky. Until then, I'll leave you with a couple pictures of the fabulous-ness that is life lately (: haha. Love you!

Sarah and Sarah! Senior Year (:

Discrete Math Class. I love them a lot! (:

Just sitting in the truck waiting on the tractors to come in!

Character Day! Mr. Blevins was Joe Dirt, and it pretty much made my life.

Character Day! Repunzel, Black Swan, and Angelina Ballerina!

I got to play croquet with Bruce Jenner on Sports day. Be jealous.

Twin Day! She really is my twin!

80's and 40's for Decade Day!

Calah and Kelsey with the Guard Side!

Me with the Band side of the Spirit Rock!

I love my girls... even though they're woodwinds ;)

I. Love. My. School.

Homecoming! (:

Bernie! :D

2nd Place for the first competition of the season? I'll take it (:

Podium ridiculously inclined. I almost died.

Marching in!
Just chillin' on my throne!

I was ambushed, and it was hilarious. I was quite scared, though! (:

So, what's your life been like lately?


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

To Be Four.

I miss being four years old.
Residing in a land of make believe,
Everything I needed was right there to receive.
Singing at the top of my lungs, dancing around,
Playing hide and seek, just waiting to be found.
Wishing on bright stars, pouring out my dreams,
Everything is solid, the world as simple as it seems.
Wearing clothes mismatched, shoes on the wrong feet,
Going to bed late is still a little treat.
Knights and dragons, princesses and the like,
Riding away in triumph on the white horse of your bike.
Decisions are made for you, but the ones you have to choose
Consist of nothing more, really, than which color crayon to use.
Tag and dodgeball, foursquare and more
Playground games to some, for us a small war.
Poptarts and mac'n'cheese, chicken fingers too
Nothing thrills me more than when my mouth can be turned blue.
Sprinklers and picnics, popsicles in summer's sun
Days lasting forever, and we number every one.
Life was so much easier, the world seeming so carefree
I miss the ways of childhood, and the way things used to be.

(: Have a Terrific Tuesday!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Music Mondays.

I love this. It makes my days a lot brighter. Happy Monday! (:

Sunday, October 9, 2011


I want to change the world.
I want to make a difference.
I want to break the mold of the society in which I reside.
I want the world to know that I was here.
I want the history books to hold my name.
I want memories to hold my face.
I want generations from now to look back and say 'Remember her? She changed things.'
She made a difference.
She cared for the world in which she lived,
And she set out to improve it.
I want to live this life with everything that I've been given.
Ready, set, go.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Zumba! 10.05.11

Hey, love! So, I know that I've already posted today, but to make up for my lack of posting over the past few weeks, here is a double-day post.

So, for the past couple of months, I have been going to Zumba classes once a week. I go to this amazing place called La Rumba (check it out, and if you're close, COME!) Let me just tell you, it's seriously one of the best things I've ever done. I get an amazing work out, and I get an amazing new group of friends. Win, win! Zumba means a lot to me, and I want to try to explain why. And, when I'm trying to explain something, I usually work better off of a list. So, a list it is!

(A few) Reasons why I love Zumba:

1. It's a seriously legit workout. I leave almost wringing wet with sweat every single time I go. And it feels awesome. You know that almost high you get after you exercise? Yeah, imagine that times like five and that is what Zumba feels like. True, I'm usually sore afterwords, and the next day I'm cursing those squat songs that we did, but, oh, is it ever worth it!

2. It's an entire hour where the world can just melt away. I don't have to think about this and that test, this college application, that band competition, this house chore, that lack-of-money... I can just be. And do what I love. It's amazing to me how every single time I'm in the room and the lights go out and the music kicks up, the rest of the world literally fades away. Suddenly, it's just me, moving my body in time with the music, along with the other fifty people in the room. The energy just flows through all of us as we breathe, turn, glide, and salsa together.

3. The instructors are fantastic. They are so full of energy, and they inspire me to push myself to become better, both in physical ways and in mental. They are wonderful ladies, full of life and some of the sweetest people I've ever met. They make me want to be a better person, and isn't that what life is about? They welcomed me into the HGF family, and I'm so thankful for that.

4. I've made some really sweet friends. There are faces that I recognize that I never would have known otherwise. And there are people who just make me smile. I think an exchanged smile is worth more than words ever could be! It's as though I've just become a part of a family that's much larger than myself, and I'm thankful for every last one of them!

5. It's just plain fun. How often do you find something that you absolutely love to do? Not very often, if you're anything like me. And that number greatly decreases when it's something that's actually healthy for me. Zumba fills that description. I hope I can continue to go always!

So, Zumba family, if any of you read this, thank you! Thank you for making me a healthier person. Even though I haven't really lost any weight, I feel so much stronger, more exercised and energized, and I have lots more joy! I appreciate each and every one of you more than you'll ever know! Thank you for being who you are, and for accepting me as your family as well! Love you!


Quick Challenge

Hey you guys. Oh, how I miss you. Life is so, so, SO crazy right now, I barely have time to even think. But, I wanted to say that I have a challenge for you today. It's a challenge I'm accepting, and trying to incorporate into my own daily life. I hope you do the same, and I hope you're well!

1. Invest in someone today.

2. Ask someone how they are, and really listen for their answer.

3. Smile. You'll never know how much that could mean to someone.

4. Laugh. It's good for your soul.

5. Listen to music at some point. It doesn't even matter what kind, just listen and enjoy.

6. Be thankful, more so than usual. Don't forget how lucky you really are.

7. Meet someone new. Even if it's just the cashier, or someone in line in front of you, etc.

8. Be kinder than you think you ought to be. You never know what kind of battle someone may be facing.

9. Pay attention to the small details. They'll make you smile, I guarantee it.

10. Embrace living. Make each day a day worth remembering.

Love you!


Monday, September 26, 2011

Sunday, September 25, 2011


It's September 25, and simply because I can' t think of much else to do, I want to tell you 25 facts about me. You may find it amusing, you may not. I don't really know. I'm not really sure if anyone reads this at all really! Oh well. If you're here, thank you! Lehhgo.

1. I listen to Pandora Radio all. the. time. It's an addiction, I think. And a dangerous one, as I always find tons of new music that I love and want on these stations. My favorite station thus far is my 'Train' station (no pun intended... hehe!). It's fabulous.

2. It's taken me this long, but I'm finally starting to figure out who it is I want to be. This is not to be confused with what it is I want to be, because with that I have no idea. But I'm coming to terms with that. I'm me, and I'm loving who that is right now.

3. 20 Questions is my favorite game ever. And one of my best friends and I have this on-going game, which has turned from 20 to approximately 192 questions, and I absolutely love it. It makes my life a lot brighter. And I have yet to have a shortage of questions!

4. Photography is one of the most amazing, rewarding, and fun arts I've had the pleasure of taking part in. And I've had so much fun learning and soaking it in lately! I hope I continue to develop my passion and talent in this area.

5. I have an odd taste in music, and it spans across almost the entire genre spectrum. And I love it.

6. Band season, which is right now, is one of the most rewarding and stressful times of the year. I'm soaking in every last drop I can manage to. The band is my family, my home-away-from-home, my best friends, and my favorite part of the day. I love those crazy kids (:

7. My best friend Sarah and I compliment each other so well. I like to drive, she likes to ride. I have no sense of direction, she has an awesome one. She likes to eat the cookie part and I like to eat the chocolate chips. We finish each others sentences. I'm so lucky to have her. She has helped to get me through so much. I owe her a lot, and I love her even more.

8. I've come to realize that my relationship with God isn't based in church, but rather within myself. I've grown closer than ever to my Abba in the last year, even though I'm attending church must less frequently than I used to. It's a different relationship... it's my own now. I'm learning for myself, rather than just taking someone else's word for it. But I do love my Sunday School girls!

9. I want a treble clef and bass clef heart tattooed on my hip. But it probably won't happen.

10. I constantly crave fruit snacks. And if they are shaped like princesses or dinosaurs, well then it's just the cherry on top!

11. I bought a new snuggie a few weeks ago and I use it all the time. It's honestly improved my quality of life... I highly recommend one if you don't have one already.

12. If I could have any pet in the world, I would have a giraffe and I would name him Bradley. We would be best friends. And have matching sunglasses.

13. I don't like the texture of tomatoes, cottage cheese, cocoanut, or turkey pie.

14. I'm a gLeek. And proud of it.

15. I just saw The Lion King in 3D last weekend. It was worth every single penny of my over-priced ticket. 'It was awesome' is an understatement.

16. I wish I could wear a tutu through the grocery store and not get stared at like a freak.

17. I. LOVE. QUOTES. I'm addicted to looking for them, and I use them all the time. Seriously, there needs to be a website with every important quote ever!

18. I love youtube videos. Whenever I have a bad day, they can always make me laugh. People's stupidity can be really amusing.

19. I love Zumba. I go every Tuesday and it's just plain fun. I'm all for working out in a gym if you have the option, but I get bored so fast in there. Zumba is always new and the energy in the room is just pulsing. I even got up on the stage for a song last week. It's definitely a huge highlight of my week!

20. I love comments. My heart is happy when I see that little '1 comment that needs to be moderated' on here, or when I have a little red number notification on facebook. It's a joy for me, regardless of how lame. (:

21. I'm a huge Disney fan, especially Disney Princesses. I want to be one one day. I think that would be the most amazing summer job ever.

22. I dance and sing at the top of my lungs in my car. I'm pretty sure over half of my highway companions think I'm insane.

23. I read blogs of people all over the world, and I've people from all over the world to comment on my blog. It amazes me that we can all be so connected like this. God's blessed me with every single one of you who read this. I appreciate you more than you know!

24. I'm really sentimental about a lot of things. I also am a sucker for little things that remind me of bigger things. Like jewelry that has a message, or bracelets that a little kid gave me.

25. I'm loving this life more and more each day I get to live it. How very blessed I am. So, I hope this finds you well and I hope that you're soaking up the life you've been given as well. Never forget to keep on stringing the little things!


Wednesday, September 21, 2011



Just letting you know, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. I'm still here, and absolutely in love with my life right now. I'm using a camera on a regular basis. Yep, I'm a happy camper (:

Love you guys. I'll update soon, pinky. Life's just a little hectic at the moment.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Music Mondays.

Music keeps me breathing. Seriously, I have music playing for 99% of my day. These are just a couple of ones that I love to sing with lately. Enjoy them, and enjoy today. You deserve it (:

Lady Antebellum- Dancin' Away with my Heart.

Rodney Atkins- Take a Back Road

Friday, September 9, 2011

Five Minute Friday

& here's to the weekend that has taken five lonnnnnnng days to get here (:

Today's Topic: In Real Life.


If you know me, you are fully aware of my immense love of photography. There is almost nothing sweeter than holding a memory in between your fingers, where it forever remains unchanged, regardless of if the people do. But really, there's nothing in the world that can replace real life. Sometimes, it catches me off guard. Life is beautiful... stunning, even. The little moments added together are what make it so, so sweet. The moments of precious conversation with friends, or long-awaited hugs, or even sharing a meal together... nothing can replace that. It's true, photography helps you retain those moments for a little while longer than usual, but it still doesn't replace having been there.

But, that's where my daily challenge for myself comes in, and I'm challenging you to do the same. Today, I challenge you to make today a day worth remembering. And tomorrow, I challenge you to do the same thing again. Memories are wonderful, but today is your gift. Today is your real life, make it amazing (I promise, you DO have the power to do that!). Soak it up, every last breath. Live the life you'll want to remember, and live it today. This... right now... your real life (:



Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Plight of Pediatric Cancer

When you become a part of the Pediatric Cancer World, you never forget about it. It's a world that none of us wish to be in, and that we wish no one else would ever have to enter, but it is a world full to the brim with fellowship and deep, compassionate friendship. Through this world, you meet lots of new people. One person that particularly touched me over these few years is Miss Julia Scavo, along with her mother, Amber. They are wonderful, amazing people, and you should definitely check out their blog right here.

Today, I am reposting a post by Mrs. Scavo that really moved me. I did my Junior Project on this very topic last year, and yet these stats never cease to amaze me. Please take the time to read it, and take the time to get involved and spread the word! Happy Childhood Cancer Awareness month!!!

Today, as you attend work or school, visit friends, or meet someone new; please tell them a bit about childhood cancer. How it remains underfunded and under-recognized as the#1 killer disease of our children today. That's OUR children.

Chances are 1 in 300 that any child will be diagnosed with cancer before age 20 (That's 14,500 kids every year!). 20% of those diagnosed will not survive five years. Every 4 hours a child dies from cancer. Of the 80% that do survive, 60% are impacted by the cure; resulting in long-term health effects including secondary cancers, major organ damage (not to mention minor organ damage), infertility, and social/learning disabilities.

It is widely recognized that the progress in cancer survival rates among children is the result of successful clinical trials, where work from our nation's laboratories is translated into clinical application. For children, the standard of care today is to be treated in a clinical trial, and more than 70 percent of children with cancer participate. That compares to only about 3 percent of adults (and only 1.5 percent of adult Medicare patients) with cancer who are enrolled in clinical trials. Many of the breakthroughs in adult cancer treatments actually come from pediatric clinical trials.

The triumphs over childhood cancer are to be celebrated, but there continue to be limitations on pediatric cancer research. Just a small fraction of the dollars spent on research in this country is directed to pediatric cancer.

When my child was diagnosed with cancer, I had no idea the plight of pediatric cancer in this country. I have received quite an education in the trenches and have felt God's calling on our family to make a difference in this fight. I have had many conversations with individuals about much of this information. I have written posts about many of these facts, figures, and organizations. But I have never taken the time to consolidate all of my research and writing. So here goes...

Childhood cancer is severely underfunded both publicly and privately. All 47 pediatric cancers combined only receive 3% of the national government funding! For every dollar spent on a patient with breast cancer, less than 30 cents is spent on a child with cancer. What does this mean for a bottom line? In 2007, breast cancer research received $843million in government funds and $256million from the private sector. The combined total for childhood cancer was $130million. Why does this discrepancy matter?

The current treatment for breast cancer involves targeted therapies, immunotherapy, and genetically-tailored treatment plans. The survival rates for breast cancer are 90%. The average age for diagnosis is 61 years and quality of life and health is preserved in most cases. For children the exact opposite is true. The average age of cancer diagnosis is 6yrs and 80% of cases are metastatic disease (already spread). The prognosis is fatal for 20% and lifelong debilitation and disease for 60%. The remission rate is only 27%!! That is a loss of 71 years of healthy life. The average age of diagnosis for all the other types of cancer is 67 years and billions of dollars are being poured into research. Prostate cancer for example has a 99% cure rate, but receives the third highest level of government funds (after breast and lung cancers).

Sadly, this bias continues in the private sector. The American Cancer Society is probably the most well known national cancer organization For every $1 raised at a Relay for Life event, less than half a penny is given to pediatric cancer research grants or patient support. Some may wonder why we Relay? To raise awareness for our children! We have participated, but do not fundraise for them. Our kids are the forgotten ones no one wants to think about.

I'm sure everyone is aware that October is breast cancer awareness month. It is a tremendously successful fundraising campaign. Breast cancer awareness... from product labeling, to network recognition, to corporate donations, to media attention, and pink ribbons.... continues to trump every other type of cancer. It is our hope that we can follow in that same successful footsteps with childhood cancer.

How does underfunding affect childhood cancer treatment?
Of the 120 new cancer therapies for adults approved by the FDA between 1948 and January 2003, only 30 have shown use in children. Of those 30 drugs, only 15 acquired any labeling for pediatric use during that same 55-year period. Source: Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, August 2006.
Over 55 years, 15 new cancer drugs labeled and approved for children, compared to 120 for adults. In the past 30 years, when medical science has exploded, only 1 new drug has been developed for pediatric cancer. ONE!!! We should be ashamed of ourselves.

Everyday parents are given the life shattering news that nothing more can be done for their child. Can you imagine anything more heartbreaking than having to tell your child you can't help them? These courageous children who want to fight and want to simply live have nothing left to do. In a country that happily spends $5 BILLION every year on halloween and $56 BILLION every year on their pets, you can't help but question our national priorities.

All of this probably leaves you wondering, why is pediatric cancer funding so neglected? This is the million dollar question.

I think there is a large misconception that it is being "taken care of". We live in the richest country in the nation. We step up to help whenever catastrophe arises. We have the best medical institutions and researchers in the world. We are the home of St. Jude hospital and they never turn any child away. Right?! Well actually, St. Jude's serves 400 families a year (of the 40,000 total in treatment). The children accepted must fit into their current clinical trials. The rest are turned away. St. Jude research does benefit other patients and they do consult on other cases, but of the total money they raise 20% goes to fundraising and administration, 60% goes to the comprehensive care and treatment of the 400 families in their care, and the only the remaining 20% goes to research. They have tremendous facilities, extraordinary doctors, and a comprehensive approach, but they are like the country club of cancer, that serve an elite few. St. Jude's is doing amazing things and have made tremendous strides for all children with cancer, but the majority of the country thinks they have it all under control and any child with cancer can be treated at their hospital. That is far from the truth.

The majority of children with cancer (90%) are treated at a group of 200 local hospitals who belong to the
COG (Children's Oncology Group). This amazing organization was formed ten years ago to unite the clinical trials and research being conducted worldwide. This ensures that no matter where a child is treated they are receiving the most current protocol and their results are benefiting research everywhere. The COG combined with the National Childhood Cancer Foundation to form CureSearch. Here is a link to their major successes so far. And 95% of their funding goes directly to research!! Only 1% of charities can make that claim. Curesearch needs to become the name and face that everyone associates with cancer. And second and third in that running would be St.Baldrick's and Alex's Lemonade Stand who are committed to pour money directly into research for kids' cancers and are funding additional grants at COG hospitals.

And for the nitty gritty of how childhood cancer ended up in this predicament, there is
a wonderful article from the American Association for Cancer Research. It essentially boils down to the following:
  • Kids' cancers are not profitable to drug companies.
  • Kids do not vote.
  • Kids cancers are different than the same cancer in adults all the way down to the molecular level.
  • Kids' cancers behave and respond differently. (They are different cancers with the same name.)
  • There are too few kids as a total research base.
  • Kids get the hand-me downs of adult treatments. Pediatric formulations are not always available.
  • Kids bodies are not little adults.
  • There are complex ethical issues with kids.
But thanks to CureSearch, the COG, St. Baldrick's, Alex's Lemonade Stand AND the parents, doctors, and nurses in the trenches; these roadblocks are being attacked brick by brick and in the war against cancer there is HOPE for our kids. But that hope depends upon the continued support of compassionate individuals and public awareness.

As I finished typing this post my new favorite commercial came on TV, not a coincidence. You may have seen it. The Hyundai Hope on Wheels campaign has a new ad. They have given $14.2 million to pediatric cancer research grants in the past few years. It is a glimmer of hope that the nation is taking notice...

(and a cool feature... one of the handprints on the wall is for our own Vinny :) love it!!)

Love you all very much!