The World Needs More Love Letters

The World Needs More Love Letters

The 12 days of love letter writingHey y’all.

One of my favorite bloggers, is this fabulous girl named Hannah Brencher (or HB for short).

A few years ago, HB started a super cool thing called More Love Letters (MLL). It’s mission is simple: spread love to the world through love letters. I’m not talking about romantic love letters, though a little old fashioned romance is never a bad idea. What I’m talking about is leaving a letter for a stranger to find in your favorite book store or at a coffee show. The idea is to sprinkle the world with words of love.

In addition to encouraging people to send letters on their own, MLL takes requests of love letters to send.

This Christmas, I have the honor of telling you about a great lady you can send Christmas love to this season as a part of The 12 Days of Love Letter Writing.

Her name is Verna and she is an 83 year old widow. Verna is one of those older ladies who has chosen not to sit around and morn. When her husband died a few years ago, she learned how to take care of household finances. Verna went on living. She even went on a hot air balloon ride with her grandkids recently because it was on her bucket list.

But doing awesome things during the day won’t keep you warm at night. Verna needs to be reminded of how much love is in the world.

This Christmas, add one more Christmas card to your list. Send a letter to Verna and cover her in words of love.

Verna’s address is:

Verna’s bundle

℅ Jennifer K.

7660 Audubon Meadow Way

Alexandria, VA 22306

USA

 

For more information about this go to moreloveletters.com or hannahbrencher.com.

(P.S., Know someone who could use some cheering up in the form of letters? Check out the requests page for More Love Letters).

PhotoCredTiffanyFarley (12)

And I’m off to write my letter to Verna!

Love, Jackie

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Disney Princesses Can Be Good Role Models

Disney Princesses Can Be Good Role Models

I get tired of hearing people complain about Disney princesses being too thin or similar or not independent enough, etc.

That very well may be true at times but when I watch a Disney princess movie, I am not expecting to watch a movie that will change the way I look at society or affirm important cultural values. I go watch it because I want to see a fairy tale. I want to see a girl in pretty dresses meet a handsome prince/beast/scoundrel.

It’s like peanuts. Sometimes I really want peanuts. Sometimes I want almonds. They are both good and both have value. But it wouldn’t be fair of me to be disappointed that a jar of peanuts doesn’t have almonds in it.

I have another bone to pick with people who complain about the princesses not rescuing themselves or being independent.

First I would assert that all the characters are a product of their time. Back in the 50s, people thought the way Snow White sang was enjoyable. But in 2010, we had a pop singer as the princess in Tangled. Times change and the princess change with the times.

Second, every single one of the Disney princesses has something in common other than being pretty. They are FIERCE. They are TOUGH AS NAILS.

Snow White’s step mom tries to get her assassinated but Snow White doesn’t let that get her down. She cries for a little while and gets over it and starts living her new. Sure later on Prince Charming saves her but in the beginning the very first Disney Princess saves herself and set a great example for all for her successors.

Ahh. Cinderella. Good ole Cinderella. She was the first I remember watching and I think she sets a great example that Snow White would be proud of. She takes care of herself and she gets things done. Cinderella wanted to go to the ball so Cinderella found a way, despite incredible adversity, to go to the ball. She wasn’t afraid of hard work, and even though her Step Mom was a bully, Cinderella never saw herself as a victim.

Next came Aurora from The Sleeping Beauty. I’ve only seen the movie all the way through once so I can’t really defend Aurora. Honestly, she’s the only one I’d say was too passive because it seems like all she does is walk around all la di da. I do love the scene with the fairies fighting over whether or the the dress should be pink or blue though.

And then in 1989 came one of my favorites and, in my opinion, one of the best Disney movies, The Little Mermaid. Ariel is a much different princess than Snow White. Ariel actually has a living, loving parents. But the generation that grew up with Ariel no longer thought “father knows best” or that parents were infallible. This generation tested boundaries – as did Ariel. She made some poor choices fueled by passion and infatuation for a fantasy and not logic. But you know how she responds to the consequences of those bad choices? She goes on living her life. She realizes the depth of her father’s love for her.

Three years later, came my favorite Disney Princess, Belle! To be fair, I should explain that my mom always extolled the virtues of Beauty and The Beast because Belle fell in love with who he was and not what he looked like. But that’s not the only good thing about Belle. Belle has substance. She’s ok with being different. She won’t marry the most handsome man in town just because he deigned to look twice at her. Then when danger comes and her dad is missing, she doesn’t go ask anyone for help. She goes out and saves him. She sacrifices herself for father. Then later she saves her father from being thrown into an asylum by greedy people. Belle is TENACIOUS.

But she is also tender, and I think that’s so important. She shows this unloved, terrifying creature that he is lovable and he is worthy and through that he’s able to show his more vulnerable side. I think it’s important that little girls and little boys see that treating someone with kindness and respect is the right thing to do, no matter who the person is.

Next come the ones that are more recognizably fierce and tough.

Jasmine stands up to and for her father. She refuses to be bullied by Jafar. Plus she has a pet tiger. Anyone with a pet tiger is fierce.

If you’re questioning whether or not Mulan is tough… Just go rewatch the movie. And if you’re still unsure, then I don’t know what to say to you because Mulan joined an army to save her father. And yes, I realize she isn’t a princess and doesn’t marry a prince BUT Disney calls her a princess so she’s included. Plus I love her and “reflection” totally resonated with me with a teenager.

I have pretty much the same thing to say about Pocahontas as I did about Mulan. She’s got a little bit of Ariel in her too. Overprotective father, curiousity, the need to be free. But more important than all that is her need for the world to be just. She doesn’t try to save John Smith because he’s handsome, though it doesn’t hurt. She tries to save him because killing him would be wrong and she’s not afraid to stand up for what she believes in.

Tiana, Merida, Rapunzel and Anna and Elsa are obviously fierce and strong. I think there are important lessons to be learned from all of them.

Tiana might be the most impressive of the princesses. She gets things done. She doesn’t whine and she doesn’t quit. She makes life the way she wants it to be #goals

Rapunzel teaches the lesson of having and going after your dreams. Frozen is all about family and the importance of that love.

I haven’t seen Brave but from what I hear it’s about independence.

I do have one qualm about the pervasiveness of the Disney Princess movies in the last 25 years. From 1937-1988 we got 3 princess movies. From 1989-2015, we’ve gotten eight new princesses and one queen. I think that says more about society than the way the princesses dress or the way they act. Part of the reason for the increase may be due to technology advances or an increase in animators.

Regardless of the reason why, let’s quit criticizing the Disney princesses, even the ones from past who seemed passive. If you have a problem with the pervasiveness of princess memorabilia, encourage your child to watch Doc McStuffins or an educational show on PBS (that’s totally what I grew up on and I think I turned out fine). Get your girls to read historical fiction like the American Girl doll series or the Girls of Many Lands books also by American girl. Laura Ingalls and her sisters make excellent role models in the Little House series. They are so many more options. Let them watch Cinderella and then follow it up with something more obviously empowering towards women.

Be on the lookout for a post about books all kids should read because I just got really excited revisiting my childhood!

Authenticity

Sometimes I don’t like to blog because I know that not as many people will read it unless it’s accompanied by the perfect graphic or if the layout of my blog doesn’t scream “Jackie.” I get so bogged down by the design aspects, of which I am good but not great nor do I have the right programs. I get so bogged down by my blog not being pretty enough that I forget that my words can be pretty. Because I am not a cutesy, artsy person who always chooses the right instagram filter. I am not always wearing the latest designer or fashion trend because I like what I like whether it’s popular or not. Wanting to dress in your own style and not just what’s popular can be REALLY tough. But I do it. There are many fads that I never participated in simply because I didn’t like it for myself. There were ones that I did participate in because I like it. I own and often wear a pair of Chacos. I like them, they’re comfortable and they work well for my flat feet.I know it seems like I’m rambling but my rambling has a point.

It is SO important to be authentic. To be genuine. People want to see the real you. They don’t want to see the perfectly polished version you put forth on social media. There’s a reason people like celebs like Zooey Deschanel, Jennifer Lawrence and Taylor Swift. When you see them in magazines, tv, social media, etc. you get the feeling that you could be friends with them. We feel that way about them and other celebrities, because they are genuine. They are real.

Wanna know something fun? Nobody likes it when you or I are disingenuous (aka insincere or fake for the friends that I know who get irritated at me for using big words in conversations).

People want to see the real, raw, messy you. This is me giving you permission to share with others that you’re not that great sometimes. This is me telling one of my favorite youth Sunday School teachers that the job search is really hard and it’s really frustrating instead of my stock answer of “it’s going good.”

This is not me giving you permission to only complain though. Celebrate the wins when you have wins. Celebrate the little wins as well as the big ones. Yesterday, I texted my sister telling her how excited I was that I finally made it through a barre pilates class without starting to black out. That’s a victory. That’s progress. It’s small but small things are important to you. Sometimes the highlight of your day is getting a good parking spot or getting in a short line at Walmart. And that’s okay. That’s more than okay. That’s awesome. Celebrate it. Own it.

I’m learning lately to be okay with who I am, strengths AND weaknesses. They all make up who I am. They all offer me room for growth and ways to glorify God. A few months ago I wrote in my journal how I wanted to be like a couple of famous writers who are known for their words. I wanted to be big. And I just had this overwhelming assurance from God that he didn’t need me to be big. He needed me to be small. He reminded me that my role models were small before they were big and that now was my time to be small. So here I am. Living in a small state, in a small town, in a small bedroom learning to be okay with being small.

I don’t know if this makes much sense to anyone but myself but I think it’s important to share what’s on my heart sometimes and this is on my heart. In the spirit of authenticity, I am sharing this without a picture and I am letting you know that I had trouble spelling authenticity because I am a HORRIBLE speller. Seriously, I would have had a lot more trouble in English classes had I been born prior laptops and spellcheck becoming the standard practice.

Is anyone else going through a season of life that seems counter intuitive to culture? Let me know!

How to Succeed in College Without Really Trying

How to Succeed in College Without Really Trying

My college career has ended, and my little sister is preparing to leave for college, even though she’s still a baby who can’t be old enough for college. I’ve been reflecting on the things I’ve done during college. Some are things I am thankful for, while others are ones I wish I had been wise enough to avoid. So without further ado here are my tips to succeed in college.

  1. Find your place and find yourself

High school can be hard and limiting, socially. College, on the other hand, has a place for everyone. I found my place in the Mississippi State University Ballroom Dance Club and with the Baptist Student Union (BSU). BSU allowed me to grow spiritually and gave me the opportunity to do missions in Orlando for ten weeks. The ballroom club helped me get in shape, develop better posture (my posture used to drive my mom crazy!) and gave me something that makes me feel joy. I cannot imagine my life if I hadn’t had an RA who was involved with the club. Thanks Liz!

You don’t have to do these things but you should do something. If you wanna join a sorority, go for it. If you wanna be a member of the Brony Club, I won’t judge you. Well maybe a little but that’s the great thing about college. It’s the time to do what you what to do and say, “I don’t care what other people think. They can think I’m weird but I’m okay with that.” One day, my freshman year I wore a frilly pink shirt and pants with low heels and a headband that looks like it belongs to a medieval. I shamelessly told people that today was princess day and didn’t care if they thought I was weird, and it worked.

Both the BSU and dance club have given me opportunities to grow as a person and given me the opportunity to meet awesome people. In fact, I found my junior year roommates, Claire Cook and Krista Smith, through my family group at the BSU. Which leads me to my next point…

  1. Choose your roommates wisely

You don’t have to be best friends with the people you live with. You don’t even have to like them. But you do need to be able to live with them. If you like things to be clean, don’t live with your super fun but super messy friend, and, of course, vice versa. If you want a quiet home, live with your mellow friends. If you want home to always be exciting and fun, live with people who are lighthearted and fun. Basically, just figure out what you want home to feel like, and see who you know that fits in that. I don’t like to talk in the morning so I need roommates who understand why I seem moody at 7 a.m. They have to know I don’t hate them; I’m just not ready for the world yet.

However, I want to dispel a myth. It is totally possible to live with your best friend. I lived in a small dorm room with my best friend during my sophomore year. And you know what? She’s still my best friend. We had to be mature enough to let things go sometimes. But the only recurring issue was that she is hot-natured, and I’m cold-natured. There were times when I froze and she burned up, but we lived to tell the tale.

  1. Be a good roommate

It’s not all on them to make you comfortable. Living with people requires give and take. You may know their worst qualities but that just means they know yours as well. Keep that in mind and try to be someone easy to live with. If you have a problem, don’t be passive aggressive. Get it out in the open!

  1. Make friends with people in class and your major

My sophomore year I sat by a girl named Caroline Caver in Communication Theory, one of my favorite classes (Shout out to Dr. Nicholson). Eventually we worked together at Chickfila and ended up in a handful of classes together. Even though we didn’t hang out or anything, when I missed classes or couldn’t remember due dates, she’s someone I could rely on to help me out. There are a handful of other people that I always looked for on the first day of class or tried to pair up with during group projects. It’s always comforting to know there’s a classmate you can trust to proof your grammar (looking at you, Jake Jones!).

  1. Find someone a year or two ahead of you in your major

Seriously, this is one of the most important things that helped me. Through the BSU, I met Jamie Lott. Jamie was also getting a degree in Communication with a concentration in Public Relations, but Jamie was a year ahead of me. While we were both students at MSU, Jamie was constantly giving me advice about which teachers and classes to take. Even during my senior year, she was an invaluable help, always there to talk me off the ledge affectionately known as “PR Orgs.”

  1. Internships

Now, we come to the regrets. I was involved in a couple, low-key internships in college, but if I could start over now, I would definitely take off a summer and get an internship that gave me tons of experience even if it was unpaid. Looking for jobs is hard, and I wonder if I would have a better chance with more connections and more experience. Maybe things would be exactly the same for me, but who knows.

  1. Work out

Take advantage of the gym membership included in your tuition. Chances are this is a much nicer gym than anything you’ve used. It’s also a great stress reliever, and if you’re in college, you need stress relief. But more than that, get in the habit of being healthy and working out while you still have a decent metabolism. You will gain weight in college unless you make a real effort not to stay in shape or have super awesome metabolism and most of us don’t. Fun fact: you can’t eat a #1 from Chickfila every night in the Union and not gain weight. It’s just not possible.

  1. Get Involved

Wait, Jackie, didn’t you already cover this in point number one when you said “Find your place?”

Hold your horses! When I say get involved, I don’t mean you should be associated with just one or two organizations. College campuses have such a vast array of people and opportunities. The more involved you are, the people you meet. During my first BSU meeting at MSU, the president of MSU, Mark Keenum, spoke and said,

“Five years from now you will be the same person except for the people you meet and the books you read.”

So meet as many different people as you can. Meet and develop friendships with people that have opposing views or different backgrounds than you. It will make you a better person.

I loved BSU and ballroom dance club but if I could start over, being more involved is something else I would change. There were so many things I thought about doing but for whatever reason (some valid, some not), I didn’t, and who knows what I could have gained from that experience.

So to all you soon to be college freshman, especially Mikayla, go out and enjoy and succeed in college! I am here for you and rooting for you.

P.S. It’s ok if you change your major, and it’s ok if it takes more than four years to graduate. Seriously, a big percentage of people have to go an extra semester or two. It’s not the end of the world.

Hey people who’ve been there, done that, what advice did I leave out that would help someone else? Let me know in the comments!

Now, enjoy some of my favorite pictures from college including a lot of the people talked about in this post.

Mikayla and I as little girls. Can you say

Mikayla and I as little girls. Can you say “Best Friends Forever”

picture of me and both my sisters

Mikayla, Chandler and I when Mikayla graduated.

Hannah Peay, Kelsee McKim, Sarah Carpenter and Tessa Brennan were my amazing group members during Orgs class.

Hannah Peay, Kelsee McKim, Sarah Carpenter and Tessa Brennan were my amazing group members during Orgs class.

Roommate senior year:

Roommate senior year: “This is what slowly losing your mind looks like.” One of my great (and fun) roommates

Jamie and me at a super cold football game. She was my college mentor and one of my favorite people!

Jamie and me at a super cold football game. She was my college mentor and one of my favorite people!

Nandita is just one of the great friends I met thru ballroom dance. She's gorgeous, talented and super smart

Nandita is just one of the great friends I met thru ballroom dance. She’s gorgeous, talented and super smart

Carley was my kids club partner during summer missions.

Carley was my kids club partner during summer missions.

This little doll was one of the girls I bonded with during kids club. She's from Ireland, and I still miss her occasionally.

This little doll was one of the girls I bonded with during kids club. She’s from Ireland, and I still miss her occasionally.

Emily Pogue, my college sophomore roommate and best friend with me at a football game.

Emily Pogue, my college sophomore roommate and best friend with me at a football game.

This was before a football game with some of the sweet friends I made thru BSU. Erin Bristol/soon to be Alford, Emily Pogue, Anna Matheny and Kimbo (Kimberly if you wanna be proper) Keel

This was before a football game with some of the sweet friends I made thru BSU. Erin Bristol/soon to be Alford, Emily Pogue, Anna Matheny and Kimbo (Kimberly if you wanna be proper) Keel

I was such an awesome student they named a hall after me. Strangely enough it was for architects but I didn't argue

I was such an awesome student they named a hall after me. Strangely enough it was for architects but I didn’t argue

At orientation getting ID's with Chelsie Jackson. I always joke that I look as pale as a vampire here.

At orientation getting ID’s with Chelsie Jackson. I always joke that I look as pale as a vampire here.

Dancing the tango with DJ

Dancing the tango with DJ

Claire, Melanie and Jamie showing me how well they can stretch

Claire, Melanie and Jamie showing me how well they can stretch

This is one of my roommates, Emily Akers, looking super cool with a light saber

This is one of my roommates, Emily Akers, looking super cool with a light saber

My rock ministries family! I miss y'all!

My rock ministries family! I miss y’all!

Performed with these girls 3 times a week for a summer. Lots of bonding happened.

Performed with these girls 3 times a week for a summer. Lots of bonding happened.

Picture of a sunset and the American flag

Updates and Changes

Hey Y’all,

I have a few things to cover today.

For those of you who don’t know, I graduated! Huzzah! On May 1, I completed my last assignment as an undergraduate student at Mississippi State University. Talk about bittersweet! Starkville and MSU will always hold a special place in my heart and I will forever look back at my time with a smile in my heart. I’ll talk more about that soon. But for now here’s a site update!

Because I am entering into a new stage of life, I have chosen to change my site from “thequotesdiary.wordpress.com” to “jackiegiles.wordpress.com.” I’ve been considering doing this for a while for many reasons.

First and foremost, my focus on quotes as inspiration for posts has been waning. My love of quotes and it’s influence on so many of my early posts no longer shapes the way I write. I will continue to incorporate quotes when I feel it is necessary to strengthen a point with others words. However, somewhere along the way my style of writing evolved from building off of others to standing on its own to feet. With this in mind, I no longer felt comfortable writing under the name “the quotes diary” and not focusing on quotes in my writing. I stopped feeling free to write what I wanted.

Second, I want it to be something people can remember and understand. I do not write for notoriety; however, I want people to easily recognize who is behind the words. If something I write resonates with people, I want them to be able to return to the site and not have to remember both my name and the site’s name. Now they are one and the same.

I have also changed the site layout to something a little more sleek and sophisticated. It’s simple and clean that, in my opinion, allows the reader to focus on the words rather than the layout.

I hope you’ll continue to keep reading. I am going to attempt to write more consistently. I hear from all the greats that writing is a job and you have to sit down at the keyboard and write whether you are inspired or not. Soon I’ll update you on my post grad life and maybe even  create a book list for those of you looking for recommendations.

Love, Jackie

Value.

Have you ever noticed how when you’re closer to God, you literally see the world thru a different lens? It’s one of those things you forget both when haven’t been close to God in a while and when you’ve been faithful for a while. You’re only aware of the lenses in that twilight space.

I am in that twilight space and it’s kind of astounding me.

One of my favorite tv shows is called Community. It’s this quirky tv show that’s occasionally self aware and is constantly talking about other movies and tv shows. It also takes place at a community college that somehow gives out four year degrees… Don’t question it! It’s perfect for someone like me who enjoys consuming media. However, it’s not the cleanest show. In fact, it can be offensive and irreverent, though, always in a clever way.

I started rewatching it this week because it felt like a good ending to college.

In the first scene of the show, main character Jeff is having a conversation with Abed. It ends like this:
Jeff: “Now I see your value, Abed.”
Abed (as Jeff walks out of hearing distance):That’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.

And it hit me. At our core, that’s what we’re all looking for. We look for it in every interaction and every relationship. We’re secretly, subconsciously waiting for someone, anyone, everyone to say: I see your value. You have value and I have noticed it.

But the thing is others aren’t here to give us value. If they were, we’d be in a sad state. Think about it. You’re more concerned with others affirming you than you are about affirming others. With a few exceptions, everyone else is doing the same thing. We get so wrapped up in our heads that we quit worrying about others.

As a christian, you should seek to find your value affirmed in Jesus, the one who said I value you, you so much I am going to subject myself to torment so that you can avoid it.

Your value is in Christ and nothing else. You are valuable because he loves you and saved you and gives you value.

Your value doesn’t rely on your talents or how smart or how pretty or how strong you are. Your value doesn’t lie in your ability to make friends or your relationship status. Those things are good but they do not give you value. And when we choose to find value in these things, we cheapen Christ’s sacrifice and give away some of our real value.

You have value. It is given to you by Christ. Acknowledge it. Revel in it.

And while I don’t think we should find value from others, maybe we should start acknowledging the value we see in others.

Tell her she is clever. Tell him he is passionate. Point out the good things you see in people. People are often blind to their own strengths and weaknesses, be their mirror. See value in people. See value in everyone.

March is my mother’s month

Did you know that March is colon cancer awareness month? Probably not. It’s not exactly common knowledge even though it kills more than 50,000 people every year, which makes it the second leading cause of cancer related death, behind only lung cancer. 

In fact, it’s almost the end of March, too late to be writing a colon cancer awareness month post. But I forget. Nobody reminded me. I didn’t see blue (colon cancer awareness color) everywhere. There weren’t commercials on the tv or radio. 

But there should be. It’s the second most prevalent type of cancer. I should hear so much about it, I’m sick by the end of March. 

Ok, so what? Why do you care? 

Valid question. I have a good answer. 10 years ago, my 41 year old mother was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. 

For those who don’t know, Cancer has 4 stages. Stage 4 is the worst. There is no best when the word “cancer” is involved, but you have a pretty good chance with stage 1 and not much if it’s stage 4. Still, you never know if cancer is gonna be a tornado -tearing down things down it’s unpredictable but narrow path – or a tsunami -devastating everything, quickly and unexpectedly. 

Actually I don’t know if that’s true. I’m not an oncologist but it seems to me that, regardless of the diagnosis, cancer is unpredictable. 

I’m going around the world to tell a simple but emotional story. 

10 years ago, with irony befitting a book or movie, my mother was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer in the middle of colon cancer awareness month. She’s been in remission for I guess 9 years now which is amazing. My mother is a fighter. She’s strong. Maybe because she’s strong or because she had so much to live for or because that’s what you do when you’re attacked. I don’t know. To be truthful, I don’t remember it well. I remember staying with a family friend the day my mom had half of her colon removed. I remember all the food people sent to help take care of us. I remember the metallic smell of her breath most vividly of all. I still hate the smell of my hands after holding change. The smell envelopes me in overwhelming fear and sadness. But I don’t really remember how I felt or what I thought or even understood. 

It’s also national women’s history month. I’ve been wanting to honor the ladies that impacted me and shown me what true strength is. No one has impacted and has more strength than my mom. She showed that the most when she had no strength and fought anyway. 

To all the cancer patients: keep fighting. No matter the odds. Don’t go down without a fight. 

To all the family members: life is hard. What you’re doing is one of the hardest things to face in life. You will make it. No matter what happens you’ll get past it. 

To my mom: thank you. Thank you so much for beating the odds. Thank you for teaching me how to deal with illness, attending my high school graduation, giving wisdom during my first heartbreak, dealing with meltdowns, and everything else you’ve done in the past ten years since cancer tried to kill you. I love you.

So go get colonoscopies and honor the women who’ve made a positive impact on you. 

Happy women’s history and colon cancer awareness month.