Category Archives: musings

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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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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In defense of the radio.

In defense of the radio

“Does anyone even listen to the radio anymore?” asked my literature professor abruptly mid-lecture. This came right after a lengthy lecture about how historically technological advances in media helped to shape the type of content we create. Yes, I have a class almost entirely devoted to gramophone and typewriter analysis. Oh, college.

“No, I don’t mean listening to Spotify on your phone or whatever,” he said. “I mean the actual radio.”

My hand tentatively rose, followed by a couple of other kids’. Thankfully, I’m not the only one evidently still living in the 20th century.

Radios are actually pretty great.  While driving, I enjoy the mindlessness of listening to a pop station on the radio during their hour of non-stop music.  No needing to decide which song, no needing to choose a Pandora station, no needing to mess with an aux cord.

I also really like how listening to alternative stations allows you to discover new music likes and dislikes. Plus listening to the alt rock on a massive ancient boombox in your room makes you feel cool, even if you have no idea who the artists are or what that little compartment with all the buttons is on the front.  Kidding, I know what a cassette player is.  No iPhone speaker can compare to a boombox from the 1990s.

It’s not only about the music though. My favorite memories of junior year were when my dad would drive my sister and I to class early Monday mornings.  Traffic inched along, and we’d always listen to a sports talk radio program that discussed the Falcons game from the day before.  My sister and I were bleary-eyed and dreading class and hoping Dad wouldn’t ask us about boys for the millionth time on commercial break, but listening to that one caller rant about one ref call or another was such an oddly satisfying morning ritual.  680 The Fan was *our* program.

None of these random little slices of happiness would have been possible without broadcast radio.

I’m beginning to think the point of this post isn’t so much in defense of the radio, but in defense of your lit class.  The pretentious, heady, lit class class that assigns 60+ pages of readings a day on topics that you will use approximately zero times in your future career.

I maybe just wasted seven or eight hours this week studying for the class and then sitting in lecture, and now another couple hours on this post. But is time spent appreciating something in your life that you never thought to appreciate before actually “wasting” it?

To all my friends out there who are also in their first months of classes –

Hang in there.

Listening to the radio or something is a great stress-reliever, I’ve heard.

Opening image source: Eric Nopanen on Unsplash


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I Didn’t Do Whole30.


Eat less sugar. Carbs are evil. But eat whole grains! Eat veggies! Eat less. Eat more. Fats can be healthy, bring on the guac. Avoid fat at all costs. Please only eat organic coconut oil and flax seed.  Life is short though, and ice cream makes you happy.  Love your body. But you need a flat stomach. Above all, don’t stress about dieting…you are what you eat as the old saying goes!


Diet is a scary word.


All last summer I worked as an outdoor overnight camp counselor. I probably burned a ton of calories, but was constantly starving at the end of every day. And then I proceeded to take a two week trip-of-a-lifetime to Italy where I consumed pasta and pizza and gelato and bread every single night.  I’m not fat. I’m fairly tall, and growing up I got all the “you’re so skinny” “you’re all legs” comments.  After the summer though, I just wanted to lose five pounds.  Coming off of the Italian carb frenzy, I figured changing my food habits was probably the way to do it.

I get where the hate for the word diet comes from. Even just typing it makes me feel all squirmy and guilty and vaguely mom-ish. The trend these days is more towards “choices” and “lifestyle” food changes, which is where Whole30 comes in.

If you aren’t familiar, Whole30 is a program where you follow strict guidelines on eating only super nutritious food for 30 days, absolutely no cheating or you have to start over. No sugar/honey/syrup/stevia, dairy, tree nuts, grains or rice or wheat. Basically just tons of fruit, veggies, and meat. The program claims to reset your nutrition, and people rave about how you fill up so fast and stop craving dessert and carbs all the time (was this for real?!).

The problem is, I’m a teenager. I’m lucky enough to be a part of a family where we eat together almost every night, and my mom does most of the cooking. I couldn’t alter the entire family’s way of doing meals. Plus, having to be so high-maintenance when going to a friend’s house, eating out, or babysitting wasn’t worth it. And health food is expensive!  So last September I attempted to modify the plan and did my own pseudo-Whole30 less intense diet thing.


The plan.

Basically I made up a several rules for myself in an attempt to eat healthier. I’m not going to list them all because

a) I am not a nutritionist

b) Dieting is very subjective as you already know from reading the first paragraph of this blog post slash novel

and c) Spoiler alert, I don’t recommend what I did.

But just think of a list of foods you’d consider unhealthy, and I didn’t allow myself to eat any of them no exceptions, and you get the idea. My birthday was in a little over 3 weeks, and I knew I’d want to eat cake and ice cream then, so I decided to keep it until my birthday dinner and then see how it went. 25 days couldn’t be that difficult, right?

Enacting it.

The results really were a mixed bag.  The diet forced me to get creative and try a lot more healthy foods, especially to snack on. Eating healthier, even with little changes, takes time. The ten minutes it takes to make a smoothie or cut up a sweet potato add up. The extra steps became worth it though, because within a few weeks I was sort of craving the healthier food.  I’m not sure why, but anything to make salads and carrots with hummus appealing, right? And I learned to drink black coffee, which has always been a goal of mine!

Passing up certain foods was difficult, especially at social gatherings.  I survived by finding alternatives I enjoyed, like watermelon or a mug of tea. That makes me sound really lame. I guess I was lame for eating a ton of watermelon at that one party, but it was my prerogative and 25 days isn’t forever.



From a purely food-focused standpoint, I’d consider my foray into the dieting world a positive experience. I did eat healthier for those 25 days and during the months since.

So why am I not 100% on board?

The food plan reinforced the pattern of constantly thinking about nutrition facts and weight.  While trying out a Whole30ish diet, I was consistently thinking about what I was eating or what I would be eating. Mentally, it was not a healthy experience.

My birthday apple crisp and vanilla ice cream shouldn’t be thought of as “400ish extra calories and a lot of sugar”. It should be remembered as the dessert that my mom baked for me and I enjoyed with my friends on my birthday.  I should be appreciating lunch at a friends house rather than fixating on the grams of fat I’m eating in the pizza they’re serving. While awareness is a good thing, a fixation on numbers can’t be healthy.

As in everything, eating healthy is a tricky a balance. I’m still searching for the happy medium, but in the meantime I’m going to try to enjoy my strawberry salad as much as possible…and maybe a doughnut every now and again too.

I’m not even pretending to have all this figured out.  Dieting and fitness and body image are all rather awkward and controversial topics , but I’d like to open the conversation up for the week.

I have a few more posts in this vein for this series, and then I’m planning on going back to normal, sporadic creative lifestyle posts. So if this isn’t your thing, I get it.  

That being said, if you’re still reading, I’d love to hear your thoughts on any and all of it. How do you balance “healthy” – nutritionally but also mentally/body image-wise? 

Stay lovely,


B(M)I Week


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thankful | volume 5



  • The new friends I made this summer when I worked as an overnight camp counselor for eight weeks. Lesson learned: the best friends are the ones who can make even cleaning the dining hall seem like pretty much the most fun job in existence.
  • The opportunity to visit Italy and Austria with my family a few weeks ago. I still can’t get over the experience of merely existing in another culture – hearing Italian spoken all the time, walking everywhere instead of driving, seeing yet another 400-year-old cathedral.


  • Thankful for whoever invented the Common App so I’m filling out all of the paperwork involved in applying to colleges only once instead of 5+ times.
  • For plums and peanut butter and pesto and having access to good tasting food in general. And spicy zoodles!
  • For metronomes for making practicing an almost mindless activity for this rhythm-deaf pianist.


  • Cheering on the Falcons on Sunday afternoons
  • Taking the test to get belay-certified at the rock climbing gym near my house
  • Drinking loads of tea and coffee while conquering Calculus. BOOM.
  • Getting to wear all the lovely giant sweaters in the near future
  • Reading my growing stack of library books…book review time maybe??

Have a good Wednesday, guys.


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thankful | volume 4

thankful again

  • Libraries.  Gotta love a place that will let me take home an armful of books for free. I love that now school is slowing down I have time to read again!
  • Tea. I used to hate tea, but I started drinking it last fall. It’s gotten me through a lot of school stress this semester.
  • That I had the opportunity to stage manage a show this semester. I learned a lot from working backstage, and I’m so thankful my “drama friends” as I call them were there for me.
  • Spotify. All the free music and organizing it into playlists!!! I’m sensing a theme with the free stuff though…
  • My friends.  Some of them are graduating on Saturday, and it’s gotten me reeeeally sentimental.   Those of you reading this – I’m so happy for you guys and am 100% positive that you’re going to do great things!

Right now, I’m also thankful to anyone reading this. Life happens, and school hasn’t given me a lot of leeway to pursue more creative things (hence no blogging since last JANUARY), but I enjoy getting to use this text box as an outlet when I can.

Happy Thursday!  Book review coming soon…


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