Thoughts + Goals for 2019

Whether or not you want to believe it, the new year is here. 2019. The year of the pig and the Vegan according to Google, which seems contradictory to me. The year before another election. The year when some graduate, start new jobs, achieve their goals. Speaking of goals…

2018 has been a year.

You can read about my thoughts and goals from last year here. In 2018, I finished freshman year and started sophomore year second-year in college. I read a couple books, traveled, created, and challenged my beliefs.

I didn’t complete all my goals, but looking back I did more than I thought. Here were my goals from last year:

  • Decide on a major path at school. Be confident in my choice. I am much more content with where I am at school, and I realized that my major does not matter nearly as much as I made myself believe.
  • I will be working at a summer camp again this summer – I’d love to help show Christ in a way that will inspire campers to live out the gospel beyond the camp setting. Hard to tangibly say if I reached this or not, but I completed my job at camp!
  • Also get re-certified as a lifeguard for camp. I was asked to be head lifeguard and loved every minute of it.
  • Ha, probably should swim some laps before this summer then. GOAL: actually use my gym membership at school. I did! I swam, took yoga classes, learned what an elliptical was (#newbie), and did Zumba with my friends.
  • Read twenty new books this year. I only counted 17, so this is definitely a goal I want to improve on next year. My favorites from the year were Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, Rising Strong by Brené Brown, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.
  • Learn basics of Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, HTML, and Jython. Well, I learned half of them. I still would love to learn Photoshop and Illustrator.
  • Become more confident speaking French. I got more comfortable when I visited Paris (!!), but unfortunately I think I’ve since lost whatever improvements I made.
  • Sell ten items that I made by hand. My online shop had over ten sales after launching it in the spring, including a fun custom order, and I also dabbled in retail. This is a dream I’ve had for a while! So cool to see people enjoying items I spent so much time creating.
  • Visit every coffee shop in Midtown. I’m so close, still have to hit up Brash and Revelator.
  • Go on a road trip to a new state. Check! Texas!
  • Respond to texts. Go outside of my comfort zone, initiate, befriend people. Remember my friends’ birthdays. Be present. I did better – still can work on the responding to texts and initiating though.
  • Practice contentment this semester. This is a continually applicable resolution!

2019 will be something else entirely!

2019 will be the year where I…

  1. Read 20 books! I can do it this time around.
  2. Also finish reading the Bible all the way through.
  3. Keep in touch with all my friends when I study abroad. I’m the worst at maintaining communication, but I realized more in 2018 how valuable my friendships are. The next five months will be good practice.
  4. Participate in a craft fair.
  5. Learn how to properly cook chicken.
  6. Apply for a summer job or internship. Then, fingers-crossed, land it.
  7. Conquer latte art at my job as a barista
  8. Improve my relationship with my siblings…be more proactive in showing them love.
  9. See a koala and a kangaroo and try vegemite!
  10. Grow in contentment, same as last year, but also, grow in confidence.
unofficial resolution: have more beach days like this

You don’t need New Year’s resolutions. I make them, and usually forget about them by February 1st (please tell me I’m not the only one who does this). Nonetheless, I’m going to keep making them and probably forgetting them because it’s so fulfilling to look back a year later and see how far we’ve come. Resolve to have the most amazing 2019, guys.


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At the memorial service, I realized that I had only known my grandpa for less than a quarter of his life. I knew him for my entire life, but his life extended back over sixty years before I met him. I didn’t know my grandpa when he was a child, teenager, highschooler, hitchiker slash adventurer, university student, or fiancé. I didn’t know him when he worked as an electrical engineer, basketball and soccer coach, or young father. He wore many hats, both metaphorically and literally.

Grandpop as I knew him was always just a bit old and slow. My grandma liked to call him Grumpy Grandpa. He wasn’t grumpy all the time though. He actually worked as a clown for part of his life, a fact I still find weirdly funny. His idea of a joke was buying me a plethora of UGA clothes and trinkets after I started attending Georgia Tech, its rival school. Sometimes he did buy me Georgia Tech shirts too (he passed on his affinity for thrift shopping to me I think), but he always called them “cleaning rags.” Even after his dementia onset, he still could remember that I went to Tech and that it was funny to talk about UGA to me. It was a joke we shared until the end.

Grandpop loved ice cream. My younger sister and I would go visit him when we were young and spend the night. He always made us a sundae with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate syrup, and a cherry on top. He would tell grandma that we needed something at the store to get her out of the house so he could feed us ice cream. He let us have as many cherries on top as we wanted. I remember when he was driving, he even said the clouds reminded him of vanilla ice cream sundaes sometimes – evidently he also passed on the love of ice cream to me.

Grandpop was generous. He helped many of my family members when needed. He brought his family on vacations out west when they were younger to see the national parks. He taught his kids how to invest, and now my Dad is teaching me. He and my grandma started his city’s first dog park in honor of my aunt who loved dogs. He gave generously to us grandchildren at Christmas and on birthdays (yes, he gave us gifts besides Goodwill t-shirts, but those were his favorite to give).

For those of you who didn’t know my grandpa or that he passed away right after Christmas, it’s okay. He had been sick for a while, but was comfortable. My family was very fortunate to live close to where he stayed in assisted living then hospice, and my dad already was planning on taking time off work.

I am blessed to have known him and his generosity.

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College Freshman Life…is it just me?


As I’m digging through my archives of “blog posts I wrote but never published”, the timeliness of this one stood out to me. I must have written it stream-of-conciousness style, 363 days ago to be exact.

My whole life basically feels like it’s a sit-com or something.

I have gotten lost on campus so many times. I’ve gotten lost inside the same classroom building twice. I’ve also lost my key twice, and had to deal with the student center and housing office. My planner has stuff written in every inch of paper possible because I forget everything (no, really. It’s week 4 of classes and I still haven’t memorized my schedule yet).  My planner is actually amazing…except I lost it one time too. Thankfully no one moved it.

College is hard because you can do whatever you want to do, but you have to choose. There are big choices like whether to rush or work a part time job off-campus. There are also little choices like whether to study in the dorm or in the library or outside the student center or in a class building or just not study at all.

I’ve had to figure stuff out. Like how this one dining hall is closed on Saturdays and has wobbly tables, and how another one is open until 2am but only if you want to eat pizza and ice cream.  Like how one size keycard-reader on the door is for maintenance worker badges and the other size is for students. Like the fact that laundry has no line on Thursday mornings (probably because everyone is at the gym. Why is the gym so crowded at 10am on Thursdays?). Like the fact that it only takes seven minutes to walk to class from the dorm, but at least seven more minutes beforehand to put on my tennis shoes, grab my backpack, key, and lock the door.

If you’re a college freshman out there reading this and nodding your head – hi! Solidarity! Want to get coffee sometime and compare stories and cry into overpriced cold brews?

And if you’re not a college student, but reading anyways, thank you.  Thanks for giving students like me this strange opportunity to grow and learn.  Thanks for letting us vent and be naive.

This may be overwhelming, but I am so thankful to be here.

This hit so hard today, because while these first couple of weeks back have been a hard adjustment, it is so much better than this time last year. God is good, growing my comfort zone is good, and learning how to not lose my key every five seconds is good.

Oh, and to all my freshmen friends out there, the coffee date offer still stands. ❤


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Creativity | part 1

creativity (/krēāˈtivədē/). noun. The quality of being creative. The use of original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.


Jock, drama geek, popular, emo, unpopular, hipster, hippie, preppy…I don’t know

What it is about humans labeling each other.

You’ll have to let me know if I’m accurate in this assumption, but I haven’t escaped the labels: older sister, whatever the opposite of sporty is, homeschooler, freshman, introvert, nerd (or if you’re nice, you’ll call me “analytical.” But yeah, a nerd), creative.

I like to make things. Projects, merchandise, recipes, messes…

Creativity is “in” these days. Indie handmade shops line the streets, staffed by hipster starving artists, while the rest of the world just uses Pinterest.  We live in an era of sharpie mugs and t-shirt rugs and thousands of other DIY projects to get around to – someday.

But yes, I consider myself a creative person in a world already saturated with ideas, but yet I must be original. If God already made everything out of nothing, then there’s no pressure to create anything unique, right?

Raw materials put in place by my Creator. But as I make, reality states I’m only an imitator. Art and messes. My thought digresses (and this sharpie mug project is yet another failure).

Is the Sharpie Mug an Epic Fail?

This is not my sharpie mug, but mine tend to look even worse and melty. You’ll have to trust me on this.

So what’s my next project going to be? Next project…next project…

It’s almost like I have too many ideas sometimes. I can lie awake in bed at night, shards of ideas shifting in my head, and my brain keeps turning around and around, trying to piece together a design from the dozens of pieces of glass.  All I want is to choose the idea that’s best, but choosing one means losing all the rest –

In summary, the point I’m trying to get across is that often, you just have to go ahead and do something.

Paint a picture, or just paint your nails.

Sew a purse, or maybe just the button back on that shirt.

Bake a cake. Learn guitar

Start a quilt. Knit a scarf.

Read all the books. See it through

Because having the privilege of imitating, getting to see the pieces of idea spin and align into an actual something…well…I wouldn’t trade the creative label for any other.


This is an edited version of a presentation I gave on creativity my senior year of high school, last spring. It’s been on my mind a lot recently since I’m trying to make more time for creative projects here at school. I’ll likely write more about them later, but for now you can check out my Etsy Shop and creative instagram if you’d like to see examples of what I make. Thanks for reading!


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Book Review: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

I have a confession. Actually, two confessions.

  1. I call myself a reader, and I finished one fiction book last semester. One. 
  2. I have developed a habit of buying too many books that I don’t have time to read at thrift stores. Also I have a bad memory and so sometimes I buy duplicates on accident – basically I’m an eighteen-year-old grandma.

Sometimes though, these eccentrics pay off, and I’m so glad that the one novel I’ve read was this one, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. Jacob Jankowski is just a few final exams to becoming away when the death of parents cause him to drop out. A series of unfortunate events later, and he finds himself a job in the circus due to his experience with animals, but . When your job includes feeding tigers and watering elephants, fear is not an option.

Gruen’s amount of detail is incredible. I can only imagine the amount of research required to portray the Depression-era circus life so vividly. Sometimes the amount of details are a bit much to read about. If you’re squeamish, this might be the book to skip. Details aside, another plus about Water for Elephants are the characters. It’s so easy to root for Jacob, the almost-vet who now has to work his way up in the unfairly competitive circus environment. How anyone would not like him after reading about his interactions with Rosie the elephant?

I found that it is a good book to go slowly on – it’s not a quick read, it’s often heavy at times, but the overall story is so rich that you’ll want to savor it over several sittings (or a whole semester, if you’re anything like me).

Recommended to: people who appreciate historical fiction and depression-era literature

I’ve heard that this book was made into a movie also. Have you read or watched it? Which one is better?

Have a good Tuesday!


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Thoughts + Goals for 2018

2018 header

Are you a “goals” person? I don’t have a five year plan, one semester plan, or even next week plan. Sometimes that uncertainty is a bit unnerving. Equally scary though is the thought that committing to a future plan eliminates other options. Honestly, I’d really like to know where I’ll be in the five years, three months, one week. Since I can’t know what’s to come (surprise surprise), my default plan is to just see what happens while trying not to stress out.

Recently @elisejoy super-inspired me with her talk on the importance of goals for the new year (the story is saved on the Instagram app). Setting intentions for yourself doesn’t necessarily pin you down, but they can clarify your thoughts and help excite you as you look to the future. In the talk, she advises sharing goals for the new year publicly, to help build the excitement and hold you accountable.

I had never looked at personal goals that way before. It’s not a way of trying to control your future, but it can help you enjoy the journey.

Looking back, 2017 was a year of big change personally, but it was also good. Blog posts are sparse, but you can check out some of my ramblings here about food, radios, and adjustments.  Moving forward into the fresh calendar of 2018, I’d like to try this goal-setting practice.

So, here, in cyberspace, are a few public declarations of intentions for 2018, elise-joy-style:

  1. Decide on a major path at school. Be confident in my choice.
  2. I will be working at a summer camp again this summer – I’d love to help show Christ in a way that will inspire campers to live out the gospel beyond the camp setting.
  3. Also get re-certified as a lifeguard for camp.
  4. Ha, probably should swim some laps before this summer then. GOAL: actually use my gym membership at school
  5. Read twenty new books this year.
  6. Learn basics of Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, HTML, and Jython.
  7. Become more confident speaking French.
  8. Sell ten items that I made by hand.
  9. Visit every coffee shop in Midtown.
  10. Go on a road trip to a new state.
  11. Respond to texts. Go outside of my comfort zone, initiate, befriend people. Remember my friends’ birthdays. Be present.
  12. Practice contentment this semester.

While checking items off is a little bonus in and of itself, ultimately, it’s fine if I don’t complete any of them. Progress is better than perfection.

I hope your next year is full of accomplishment, spontaneity, and excitement in the face of the unknown – do you have any goals?

Be back soon with something a bit less pep-talk-y for you (but let’s be real. this pep talk was for me more than anyone).

Let’s go, 2018.


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thankful | volume 6


When I was thinking of what I was thankful for, the first thing that came to mind were the fall leaves that were changing colors all across campus. It’s incredible how vividly they turn, and how you can see the spectrum of colors even on one tree, from green to yellow to orange to dark red.

A couple of weeks ago, I started collecting some of the best leaves I saw and taping them on my dorm walls. I’m in an older freshman dorm, and the walls are this lovely yellowish greenish beige color, so anything to make it feel more like home, right? One week, I ran into my professor after a literature class. I felt kind of dumb, just holding a handful of leaves, but he stopped and started telling me all about these experiments and student research involving leaves and trees and how different media forms can be used to display nature…

I finally said something really intelligent like, “I just really like leaves.”

My first semester of college is almost over, and it’s been an overwhelming adjustment to say the least. Between living on campus, learning where everything is, and how things work here, there’s a lot to learn. Meanwhile all my classmates are so smart. That being said, I’ve come to know that being thankful is a choice. To me, thankfulness means deciding to find joy in the little things, even if everything else around you seems overwhelming and more important.

So this semester, I’m thankful for fall leaves, even though I may not know anything about scientific research behind them.

I’m thankful for the housing office and loaner keys.

For dining hall ladies who give me free bananas.

For professors who post their PowerPoints online.

For new friends who bring me drinks and snacks when I’m sick.

For Spotify music all day.

For learning my school’s fight songs.

For hazelnut coffee creamer.

For worship at a campus ministry on Thursday nights.

For thanksgiving meals and the people who make them.


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