Revisit: Losing Moments

With Life continuing to push forward with a rapid fierceness, I wanted to be sure you all knew I am still here. It seems like only yesterday I was busily preparing for Pink Tie Ball and then I looked at the calendar and that was a month and a half ago! Ohmigoodness…

I met for an ice cream date with my “adopted little sister” last week. During our discussion, she mentioned she has been turning to my more-relationship-focused, archived blog posts for inspiration during a trying time of her life. This girl is strong, intelligent, compassionate, and an amazing writer who has begun her own blog. Coming from someone I see as a future Pulitzer Prize winner herself, I was humbled.

And a bit curious.

It has been awhile since I looked over my past posts. I have been blogging since February 2014 and there have been a lot of rants, cries of grief, and ponderings to pass throughout those five years. Though there were a few instances that made me cringe or shake my head in frustration, the walk down memory lane has been refreshing. I have experienced many things over time, and I like to think I’ve learned a bit from those experiences.

In October 2014 I was still floundering to figure out my career path and attempting to move past what I thought was my “rock bottom” — my first breakup. Little did I know there was further to fall. Over the years I have gone on many other dates and felt more heartache. But rock bottom did not come until the loss of other important people in my life — specifically the death of my mentor and the end of my closest friendship. Yet there were also the mountainous highs since 2014: meeting G, grooming my tribe, establishing my reputation in my community, among many others.

As I continue to move through 2019 with Intention, I’d like to share this post from October 2014 on the perception of losing time and how one’s way of approaching Life molds your experience through the years:

“Be present. Be kind. Be knowledgeable. Make love. Make tea. Avoid small talk. Embrace conversation. Buy a plant, water it. Make your bed. Make someone else’s bed. Have a smart mouth and a quick wit. Run. Make art. Write. Create. Swim in the ocean. Dance in the rain. Take chances. Ask questions. Make mistakes. Learn. Know your worth. Love fiercely. Forgive quickly. Let go of what doesn’t make you happy. Grow. Laugh. Live.”

These are all things I want to do in my life. In little over a week I will be a whole year older. I cannot believe how quickly my life has gone by! It seems that time seems to speed up the older and busier I become. I need this to stop! I want to enjoy the few years I have, I want to see the world, I want to experience all life has to offer! But it seems the older I get the less chances I have…

Now I know time is actually moving at the same rate it was during my childhood. I remember many a lazy summer day that seemed to stretch on to infinity. So what seems to have changed is my perception of time.

I read an interesting article the other day that discussed why time seems to slip blindly by as we go through our days. In the article, research stated that time is processed in three-second increments. In a way, the human brain warps time as our brains receive more or less input than usual. This is why time slows down during a car crash and a person can lose an entire day watching Netflix.

The point of the study was to influence people to do more, or rather notice more. Focusing one’s attention on the here and now is shown to help our brains store more information and alter our perspectives of how fast time is passing. Being mindful to focus on such things can actually slow down our brain’s perception of time. In the same way, mindlessly being distracted can create a feeling that we’re losing whole hours. The final suggestion of the article was to not go through daily routines on autopilot, but rather create clear goals or events throughout the day to notify your brain of time passing.

I’m not quite ready for my life to fly by. I want to enjoy every moment of every day I am alive. I mean, God’s given me so much, why would I not want to make the time to appreciate it all?! I want to notice the small kind gestures those around me make, I want to see the exchanging of conversation and movement between all aspects of the world, and I want to actively perform my life and prove my time to be valuable with all those whom I associate.

Just as the quote said at the beginning, I want to be present in every circumstance. I want to experience every minute of my life. I simply want to enjoy my life and everything happening within it.

With you and for you always,

The View From Here

Excuse me while I get philosophical for a moment…

Today my church’s sermon was a discussion on the beginning of the world and what belief in how Life began pertains to your life in the present world. The discussion led by Pastor Dave was one which moved me so completely that I actually brought out my phone during the sermon in order to take notes for this post. This is something I can honestly say I’ve never done before; I have never felt the desire to actively scratch comments on a sermon so to better understand, remember, and reiterate at a later time.

This sermon, though, was breathtaking. I found myself nodding at his words, marveling at the statistics he researched, and even had tears in my eyes at one point because the story he told was so relative it hurt my heart.

To begin his sermon, Pastor Dave requested we consider the sermon with “a view from where we currently stood” and asked three leading questions:

  1. Where did I come from?
  2. What is wrong with the world?
  3. Is there a solution?

The sermon then progressed into an extensive look at each question and how one might answer. The conversation first focused on God as the Creator of the world. I have always believed in Creation and the power of God’s Word. When I was younger, I did not question my faith or openly debate the possibilities of differences in beliefs. Now however, after attending a public college where so many of my beliefs were challenged, I am amazed at how many new opinions and theories come into the world on a daily basis. Some opinions seem plausible while others are complete nonsense, but it calls to reason that Creation can be a difficult belief for some to grasp.

Personally, there has never been any doubt in my mind that in the beginning God spoke, “Let it be.” and it was. It was not until I became older that this belief really shook me though. I mean, seriously, how incredibly powerful can a being be to make something out of nothing by simply speaking three words?

When I contemplate this unbelievable concept, though, it is not what creates the deepest feelings of amazement in me. Instead, I am completely blown away by how intelligent, engaged, and omniscient God is. Think of the exact perfection and complexity in which the world revolves; everything is collaborated to the concise and accurate measure that it should be.

In example, look at space. If the earth were a fraction of a degree closer/farther away to the sun than it is now, life on the planet would be no more. If the moon were a fraction closer/farther away from the earth, the tides and water levels would be extremely different making the planet uninhabitable. If the earth tilted more or less than it naturally does, then the seasons, ice caps, temperatures, etc. across the entire planet would radically change. However, in the great scheme God designed, the universe is perfectly situated by 1/1000th of a degree for life to continue as it always has.

With this realization of the immense thought and care put into my every day life, it is disheartening to think of the world around me. Mundane topics come and go by the second and each brings about a multitude of hate. I mean, just look at the outcry over a red cup. There is war on Christianity for taking a “good, lovely holiday tradition” and wreaking havoc. I’m sorry, but as a Christian, I could care less about a damn cup. And in no way should such a ridiculous argument portray my religion or beliefs. Yet, it has and it continues to do so daily.

Our culture is hostile to the Christian faith. We no longer live in a time or place where what Christians believe constitutes the norm. It’s not even an accepted point of view anymore! Instead, being a Christian seems to be an open war on the cherished principles of religious tolerance and relativism. If you point out anyone’s faults or question anyone’s life choices, your faith is thrown in your face.

What is wrong with the world? The answer is too long to list. Look at your Facebook feed and you’ll see the tip of the iceberg: racism, abortion, affairs, lying, world hunger, cancer, poverty, etc. Every single thing wrong in the world is broadcast for all to see. Struggle is inevitable.

I have several friends, non-Christians, whom I love and respect. And it comes time when we have tough conversations on why the things that are going wrong in the world happen. It is at these times that I feel my faith the most. These friends sometimes challenge my faith and attempt to ruffle my feathers by saying my belief in God blinds me to the real, tangible facts the world is shoving in our faces. They question how, if there is a God, He could allow such things to happen. Or they question how I can continue to believe in a God when it seems He is no longer present in the world.

It is during those times that I feel the strength of God and can literally see my faith in action. These are the times I can plant my feet, square my shoulders, lift my head, and not only give an account of my belief but also why I believe such things.

It goes to show that Del Tackett, former president of the Focus on the Family Institute, was spot on in this quote:

However, by diligently learning, applying, and trusting God’s truths in every area of our lives we can begin to develop a deep comprehensive faith that will stand against the unrelenting tide of our culture’s nonbiblical ideas.

It is important to remember that if we, as Christians, do not really believe or even understand the truth of God and live it, then our witnessing to others will be confusing and misleading. Most of us go through life not recognizing that our personal worldviews have been deeply affected by the world. Our lives can “depend heavily on human tradition and the basic principles of the world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

There may not be a simple answer as to how to fix the problems of the world. In all honesty, we live in a Post-Christian world where sin reigns. Fortunately, for Christians, there is a way we can live in such a culture. It takes us getting our hands dirty and immersing ourselves in other people’s lives, but it’s worth it. Not only can we continue to live our faith-driven lives, but we can also witness the Truth to those our lives’ touch. How incredibly rewarding is that!?

In the end, the Christian faith begins with what we think about “in the beginning.” It matters that when we look at our world we acknowledge that there is a God. The Creator is more than a blind, impersonal force; He is a loving and engaged Father who wants the very best for every single one of his creations. This is my view on Life, my faith, and the world around me.

With this in mind, I have a bright light to lead me through Life and get me through every single problem I face. I pray that, whatever your belief, you also feel the same way and can walk into the world with your head held high knowing you have a purpose for being alive.

The Year I Grew Up: A Talk of Faith & Faults

Today is my 24th birthday, but before you feel the obligation to wish me a happy day of birth, let me stop you. There is no need. I’ve walked into today with no feelings of excitement or anticipation. Instead, I look at it as just another day in the routine of life.

Now, I’m not saying this with any sort of disdain or ill-feelings towards my birthday. I am glad that I was born, after all. As every year passes, the special ambiance once felt as a child regarding my birthday dwindles. The presents become more scarce, their usefulness more logical, and becoming another year older just means you’ve gained more experience than what you had last year.

This experience is the only reason I have a spark of enthusiasm as my age ticks another number higher. This past year was one for the books. I had so many new experiences and unexpected twists and turns as a 23-year-old that I look back over the last year and marvel at the person molded before me in the mirror.

On October 13, 2014, I was on my way to growing up but I had not quite reached the point of Adulthood. Don’t get me wrong; I still have wavering thoughts, make questionable choices, and worry every day about my future. However, somewhere over the past year I crossed the line of Young Adult to Real Adult. There are several reasons I say this and I’d like to compare the Then 23-year-old Girl to the Now 24-year-old Woman through some examples of what I’ve learned over the last year…

When it comes to love and relationships, I am not dependent on another person for happiness.

Last year when I turned 23, I was just beginning my relationship with Army. (Literally just beginning, we had only made things official a week prior.) However, I approached the relationship very hesitantly for two key reasons: I didn’t believe I could love someone as much as I loved X and I honestly didn’t want to put as much effort into making my SO’s family happy as I did with X. In retrospect, I wasn’t sure if I was ready for a new relationship when I met Army.

Now my infatuation with X was gone by this time, but the emotions of how he and his family made me feel were not. These were both very warring emotions for someone who was still attempting to find her individualism. Though I dated during the time between X and Army, I did not have any lasting relationships in which to change the only way I knew to act as a girlfriend. This included being dependent on the guy and a pushover and coward to his family. As someone who was discovering herself, entering into a relationship where my mind was screaming, “NO! WE AREN’T GOING BACK TO BEING THAT KIND OF GIRL!” was terrifying.

Cue Army and his family. As our relationship progressed, my entire view of relationships and family interactions changed. With Army, I could remain independent. He urged me to keep up with my other friendships, he encouraged my hobbies and interests, and he made a point to intertwine both our lives together while keeping them apart. I never became the dependent, clinging, subservient girlfriend when I was with Army. As for his family, they accepted me from Day One. They were actually a large reason as to why I fell so hard for Army; I was part of his family. So as my feelings grew for Army and his entire family, the thoughts that I could never love someone again diminished. I opened my heart, and though it was ultimately crushed in the end, I became a stronger woman with the knowledge that I could love, lose, and find love again. I was not dependent on another person for happiness; I simply found myself happier with someone to share life.

A year later and I look at love and relationships in a new light. I might not have the intimate love I’ve known in the past with X or Army at this time in my life, but I’m happy. I am happy with myself, and in turn happy with my relationships of all those around me. Right now I am focusing on strengthening the friendships and relationships in my current life situation, and also continuing to build myself into the sort of person necessary for a functional, loving, long-lasting intimate relationship.

When it comes to my ideologies, I’ve jumped off the well-groomed trail of my entire childhood and begun to trek into the murkier parts of the world.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but I grew up attending a private school where religion was discussed every day. My home church was adjoined to this school, so my weekly Bible classes usually were focused more succinctly upon during Sunday’s sermon. It came to the point where I knew my Bible stories so well and the teachings of my Lutheran faith so clear that I took advantage of the grace by which I was saved. God’s Word, church, and my faith played a small part of much of my college life. I maintained my strong morals, mostly out of fear instilled in me by  I only attended service when forced to do so by my parents. I only prayed when life became too stressful.

Then X and I broke up and I found myself clinging to the only One who I had been taught was always there for me — God. I prayed for strength, I prayed for success, I prayed for healing of the pain. Then I met Army and life was good again… except the fact that he was a self-claimed agnostic. I wrestled with this fact throughout the entire relationship; yes, I loved him, but could there potentially be a future with someone who openly mocked my faith?

By the end of the relationship, I had made up my mind. My recovery time over our break up took less time than with X because I knew, truthfully, there had never been a future for Army and me. I never wanted to take advantage of my faith again. I wanted to retain and be proud of my morals. I chose eternal grace over earthly love.

Upon our break up, I also made the choice to refocus on my faith. I didn’t want to revert back to clinging to God as my only source of support and I didn’t want to pray only for my own needs and wants. I wanted to be a better person and a better believer.

So I broke out of my comfort zone and went to my first Bible study group meeting at the beginning of August. The group, called House, has become my closest network of support, friendship, and spiritual encouragement. A group of 20-somethings all struggling to gain footing in a world focusing more internally than externally, House not only allows me to explore God’s Word in new and enticing ways, but it has given me examples of peers who are going through life at the same speed I am. I no longer am focused on being single, but I am content knowing I have friends to spend time with and experience life. I no longer feel ashamed of my faith or scared to be mocked over my morals because I have the support of similar faiths surrounding me. It truly is uplifting!

Joining House and attending church with this group has led me away from my Lutheran religion. Though I happily wake up every Sunday to go to service, it is not to my parents’/home congregation. Rather it is with a Church of God congregation. The first service I attended was incredible — it was contemporary, relative to my every day life, and different than my typical church experiences. I was in love. Now after a month of sitting among my Housemates, I still find myself soaking in the day’s sermon. My mind doesn’t wander, I don’t feel my body trying to sleep; instead, I am focused on God’s Word, the grace shown to me every day, and the strengthening of my faith through Word and fellowship.

It’s strange to be studying and worshiping in a new environment, but the one which I have known for over 20 years was no longer fulfilling my heart and soul. I’ve grown into a person who is not content with being told how her faith should look, but rather someone who wants to delve deeper into what religion is and establish what she wants her faith to say about her.

When it comes to life, I’m focusing on living a day at a time and enjoying every moment given to me.

As I look over the past year, I am able to comfortably say that I am a very emotional being. I loved with all my heart and I cried when it was broken. I laughed with every fiber of my body and I felt anger when a friend betrayed me.  I’ve lost a dear friend and mentor, began a new career, and moved into the apartment living style of life. Every day brings about a random string of emotions and feelings, and I’m perfectly happy with my life. I am continuously learning from my past while looking towards my future, but my ultimate focus is living in the present and enjoying every moment that has graciously been given to me.

So here I am, a more mature, optimistic woman who has grown a ton in the span of only one year. I’m amazed at how much I’ve changed in 365 days, but you know what? I’m going to be just as amazed by how different I am next year when I turn 25. Onto bigger, better, and brighter things!


And the cool thing is, I’ve been able to share the past year with all of you. I’ve kept my promise to myself to keep Peonies ‘n Mint striving, and since 23-year-old Ashley, the site has boomed. I love growing my blogosphere relationships just as much as my in-real-life ones. You are all fantastic and it has been wonderful not only getting to know you but also abiding by your advice and gaining strength when you share similar experiences. Thank you, lovelies. Cheers to another year!

13 Men You Meet on a First Date

I’ve had my fair share of first dates, but not many have progressed past Numero Uno. Most of the time there just isn’t that connection, other times there are factors such as distance, timing, interest differences, etc. We’ve all experienced different people, and know there’s a lot to be gained from the initial dating experience. First impressions really are everything!

I have always been a person who enjoys lists and numbers. So I’ve merged my two enjoyments into one and come up with the 13 Men You Meet on a First Date.  And since I’ve come across a wide variety of men, I’ve gathered a list to help all women translate who it is sitting before them and if he’s worth pursuing…

Now, when you read my list, think of it as a game. If you see tendencies of any of the following men, keep track. Each First Date begins with 10 points. For every con, subtract a point. For every pro, add a point. There might be a lot of math going on in your head throughout the date, but trust me, it’s worth the consideration! NOTE: Guy might have traits across all 13 Men, so gather points accordingly.

1. Mr. Wet Feet
Easy, peasy, ladies. This gentleman made all the plans for your first date, continually said how excited he was to finally be taking you out, and then…. he didn’t show.

Now, he might have a very good excuse for his lack of attendance. Perhaps his grandmother fell ill, his car broke down, or work required his time. I have an uncanny ability to disclose whether or not Mister’s excuse is viable. However, I understand not all of us women can be so lucky. Sometimes we just have to take our chances and reschedule, or we can throw the opportunity to the wind and take a chance with someone else who is more reliable.

  • If he contacts you at least 5 hours prior and claims a family/friend emergency, then give him the benefit of the doubt. (-0pts)
  • If he contacts you at least 5 hours prior and claims his employer demanded more time of him, then chalk it up to him being a hard worker and reschedule. (-0pts)
  • If he claims either of the two reasons above AND you see proof via social media — don’t stalk him though! –, then be empathetic and give the poor guy some kudos the next First Date. (+5pts)
  • If he makes no excuse, then don’t pursue. (Automatic 0pts)
  • If he makes no excuse but texts you a few days later acting like he did nothing wrong and the First Date never existed, then 1) reply with a witty and comical response, 2) sign him up for every spam messaging service you come across, and 3) don’t communicate with him again. (10pts to you!)

2. The Man Who’s Lost to Reality
Good news, the First Date commences because Guy shows up! Bad news, he might not have actually “shown up.” The Man Who’s Lost to Reality is the guy you’re not quite sure why he actually agreed to go on a date because he definitely has his head somewhere else… stuck to his phone. You’re sitting, trying to have a conversation, and the only response you get is a vague “Mmhmm” while his phone buzzes for the 254th time.

  • If he is up front with you that he’s expecting a message/call or two for a reasonable purpose, then no ill will and he’s gained your respect for being honest. (+5pts)
  • If you have knowledge that he leads a demanding career/leadership position that may require his input on a few things, then okay, we’ll let it slide and admire his dependability. (+3pts)
  • If his phone chirps and he blushes while apologetically turning it off and dropping it back into his pocket, then compliment his cuteness and care of making you feel top priority. (+10pts)
  • If he can’t seem to drop the phone because it’s glued to his hand, then 1) excuse yourself to the “restroom” and leave, and 2) send him a text explaining you don’t care to pursue him any further. (-1pt per text/call)

3. Sir Chivalrous
Like I said, the First Date is the first impression and that means a lot. Both parties should act on their best behavior. This means what Mama taught Guy should come out in full-force. Ladies! Here is something to think about: if he doesn’t know to open your door, allow you inside first, not swear in front of you, be mature, hygienic, and gracious on Date No. 1, then he won’t ever act in such a way in the future! This is not to say women are fragile and lowly beings who need men to place them on a pedestal, but we are worth the fuss of being made a priority on a date!

  • Opens your car door (+2pts), opens the building door (+1pt), allows you in first (+1pt), does not open any doors (-0pt), opens doors for himself and allows you to follow him (-5pts)
  • Speaks highly of his family (+5pts), compliments you (+2pts per compliment), uses swear words to express himself (-2pts per word)
  • Good hair (+1pt), good teeth (+1pt), classy outfit (+2pts)
  • Pays for dinner without hesitation (+10pts), flashes a smirk when you ask your share of the bill and proceeds to pay (+10pts), allows the check to sit on the table for some time so you begin to sweat wondering if you should offer to pay but then pays anyways (+2pts), picks up the check and subtracts your cost and tells you what you owe (-0pts), forgets his wallet even though he had his ID on him to order drinks (-10pts)
  • I’m a big fan of older chivalry also… so any man who walks on the curb to keep his girl away from the cars is a winner in my book! (+20pts)

4. User of the “L” Word
This might be my own personal pet peeve, but I have dated someone who overused “love” to the point I couldn’t fathom a second date. At first it was rational: he loved his meal, he loved my eyes, he loved living by the beach. But then it just became obsessive: he loved Will Ferrell, he loved cherry ice cream, he loved Oberon, he loved mirrors, he loved antiquing, he loved the sound of rain, he loved that rock I just skipped on the lake, and he loved how I skipped that rock and he loved the ripples that rock made.

I mean, I am all for loving life and the world around me. I love positivity and making the most out of everything. However, it was just so boring… I didn’t need to find out his interests or hobbies because I knew the answer: he loved it all!

  • If he uses the word “love” for more than 20 things in less than an hour (-1pt per thing)

5. Shania Twain’s Guy
So he’s a rocket scientist, Brad Pitt, and drives a ferrari — big deal! First Date’s are meant to impress, but they should also end with some depth to them.

  • Does Guy discuss things above and beyond your comprehension? You might not be in the same “league” to maintain meaningful conversation for a second date. This doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a genius and you’re not, just that your interests lie in two very different realms. (-5pts)
  • Does Guy keep combing his hair or checking his reflection in the picture frame hanging to his left? He might be more concerned about himself than he is in your conversation. Perhaps he’s simply nervous and is fidgeting, or maybe he’s bored out of his mind because he’s Gaston. You be the judge. (-3pts)
  • Does Guy make you take off your shoes before getting into his car? Is he joking or serious? (-5pts for serious, +1pt for joking and keeping you on your toes)
  • Does Guy drive a 1968 Mustang GT? (Give number to Ashley, please.)

6. Agent Ex
One of my personal favorites: Agent Ex. He’s sweet, he’s endearing, and he’s not over his ex. He wants to be, he tells you. He definitely is, he lies. But you know deep down… you’re being played.

Whether you’re his hopeful rebound or the date to make his ex jealous, this Guy is bad news. It’ll start off small at first with little mentions here and there, and then one day he’s straight-up weeping in your lap about how he never got to really say good-bye.  His ex keeps creeping into daily conversations, or ends up subconsciously being a basis of comparison. He’ll sooner or later leave you, most likely after you have some feelings for him, with a somber farewell of “I just could never commit to you when I’m still in love with her.”

  • First mention of his ex on the First Date (-20pts) and run away! “Ain’t no one got time for dat.”

7. Cogsworth
You’re not sure what it is about this Guy, but it’s something… You just don’t click. The initial meeting was awkward, your conversation is lacking, and the date just feels bland. You can’t put your finger on the exact “thing” that doesn’t match up, but Cogsworth kind of grinds your gears.

You begin to count the minutes until you can politely exit this First Date. Chalk it up to chemistry, or lack thereof, and move on…

  • Cogsworth isn’t allowed on the point system. He’s just that feeling you have right off the bat when you know there’s not going to be a Second Date.

8. I-Should-Have-Worn-A-Turtleneck Creep
Just writing his “name” makes me cringe, girls. This Guy could make a nun blush with his obnoxious gaze. Um, excuse me, my eyes are up here! It doesn’t matter if you’re wearing a scarf, a turtleneck sweater, or a parka, this creep has only one thing on his mind and it’s not getting to know you, as a person, better. Yuck.

  • If you catch him admiring your physical attributes once or twice, then take it as a compliment, blush, and play coy. (+2pts)
  • If you catch him admiring your physical attributes three to five times, then give him a questioning look and perhaps say something to make him aware you noticed. (-0pts)
  • If he is down right eye-raping you, throw your drink in his face and storm out in a tizzy, and remember to cover your behind with a napkin so he doesn’t get the pleasure of watching you leave. (-10pts)

9. Friend-Zoner
You both show up for dinner and give each other a hug. You chat easily. You laugh constantly. The meal is delicious. Then the check comes and Guy swipes it from the table before you have the chance to say, “Oh, we’re separate.” And then your smile falters and you think to yourself, “Wait. Does he think this is a date?!”

Nothing, I repeat, NOTHING is more awkward than your guy friend attempting to jump the Friend Zone when you are perfectly happy with your spot in line. Once the line has been toed, the friendship lingers in Limbo and you’re both left wondering how to regain your footing before the security guards come through to throw you out.

Pardon my amusement park analogy, but this brings back memories… (Eek!) Personally, I love being friends with someone prior to dating. It makes conversation easier, in most cases. However, when you know the in’s and out’s of someone’s life and attempt to move into a romantic relationship, sometimes information gets hung up in your mind and you can’t move around the facts to get to know someone on a new level.

  • How long have you been friends with Guy? (+0.5pts per year)
  • Have you ever felt attracted to Guy? (+1pt for a maybe, +5pts for a definitive YES)
  • Has Guy ever dated a close friend of yours? (-2pts if this fact bothers you)
  • Be honest, when you think of Guy, how many cons come across for you becoming exclusive? I.e. does his beliefs differ vastly from yours, does he partake in activities you have no interest, do you just not see anything working out, etc. (-1pt per con)

10. The Red Solo Cup
You met this Guy at the bar or a party. He had a beer in his hand, bought rounds of drinks for everyone around, laughed a lot, and was the center of attention. He is fun. He is popular. He might be ten years older than everyone else around and you wouldn’t have a clue.

The problem with Red Solo Cup is that where you met him is basically where he lives. He has no life outside the bar scene. He’s so popular because he. is. always. there. This Guy might be fun for awhile, but after some time you’ll get increasingly bored with your own life, or else your liver will revolt.

  • If he buys you a drink, then thank him and enjoy. (+1pt)
  • If he knows all the bartenders, servers, and owners of the establishment you met, shrug it off and give him the benefit of the doubt — maybe he is just a friendly regular. (-0pts)
  • If he can drink a fifth of Jack and not slur his speech, be impressed but back off. (-5pts)

My own personal advice with this Guy, bide your time. If you meet Red Solo Cup at a bar, don’t agree to a First Date right away. Go back to the bar a week later. If he’s there again, be friendly but cautious. Give it another week; if he’s there the third week in a row, don’t even approach him. He’s just not worth it, girls. He meets enough people while on his perch every week that he’ll have forgotten your name within a month anyways.

11. Ring-in-Hand To-Be-Groom
Welcome to the most uncomfortable encounter you will ever face. This Guy greets you with sparkles in his eyes and a smile to rival any movie star. His initial appearance is spot-on and you’re intrigued that he came to the First Date so enthusiastic. As your conversation begins, you’re surprised at how open and inquiring Guy is. He wants to know all about you: your career situation, your family relationships, your goals in life. But as the night progresses, you begin to realize maybe he’s a bit too inquiring. I mean, is your family’s health background really a topic to discuss on the First Date?

Then Guy hits you with the ultimate question, “What are your feelings on marriage?” No. Sudden. Movements. Keep eye contact. Smile. Give some excuse. And get out of that situation, girl!

  • When Guy mentions marriage on the First Date, run. (-20pts)
  • When Guy mentions that he loves you on the First Date, run. (-30pts)
  • If Guy proposes with a ring on the First Date, collect, and then run. (-20pts)

12. Smooth Casanova
Carrie Underwood warned us about this Guy and we all should have listened. He’s got the looks. He’s got the charm. He’s got everything you could possibly want… and so much more. Every single dripping venomous word out of his mouth is like honey to your ears. Don’t be fooled, though. He’s candy-coated misery wrapped up in a devilish grin and pretty blue eyes. You’ll be sucked up in his lies and get addicted to him in one false swoop.

The trouble is, it’s hard to identify a Casanova before he plays his hand. You’ll get caught up in his web of sweet-talking and then be heartbroken when everything he’s promised fails. This smooth-talking son-of-a-gun has only one thing on his mind and it’s not becoming your knight in shining armor. If you don’t want to listen to Carrie or me, just give your “connection” a few weeks and you’ll see — he’ll become pushy and desperate and angry when he’s not getting the one thing that he wants from you: sex. When someone is too good to be true, he typically is. And there’s a list of girls in his phone who are falling for the same tricks as you.

  • Guy is charming, kind, and attractive. (+5pts)
  • Guy is witty, intelligent, and shares your sense of humor. (+5pts)
  • Guy carries a good job, has a good family, or is self-sufficient. (+5pts)
  • Guy makes sexual innuendos throughout the entire First Date. (-10pts)
  • I am all for going with your gut. So if you have a gut-feeling Guy is hiding something or his words seem too good to be true… (-20pts)

13. The Elusive Unicorn
It’s natural to want to be part of the enticing image painted in romance movies on the ideal boyfriend. The mysterious bad boy, the man with a multitude of feelings, or the guy who can buy you the world. However, reality is usually not as direct as the dreams we’re shown by Hollywood. In reality, the guy’s in those films are not the best guys for us.

The Unicorn Boyfriend is the Guy who is perfect for every single individual throughout the world. He’s different for every person. He’s the person who you will share an epic love — your best friend, closest confidant, and sweetest lover.

The men you stay with are the ones who have dependable, honest, comical, and caring natures. They are the one’s who cause excitement and laughter in your life rather than stress and instability. They are laid back and positive, not wanting to consume you but rather involve you. He’s better than the movies because he’s real, he’s perfect, and he’s yours.

  • When you know, you just know. (+100pts — marry that poor sap so the two of you are no longer sad and alone! You’ve found one another!)



Now, when the date is over, if Guy has less than 10 points, end the relationship with a smile and a wave. If Guy has 10-20 points, consider a Second Date to push him in either the Yes or No direction. If Guy has 20 or more points, secure that Second Date. If you happen to lose track of your points, no worries. This simply means you’re enjoying your First Date and you should just move ahead at your own pace! Nothing wrong with throwing the rule to the wind!

So, of course, this “game” is meant as a joke. (Seriously, some people just don’t get humor do they?!) However, I am serious when I say there are at least 13 different kinds of men out in the world. 13 different, competing, striving to find love kinds of men. Everyone fits the mold of the Elusive Unicorn for someone else. Sometimes it just takes the right woman to turn a Man Lost to Reality, Smooth Casanova, or Friend-Zoner into an Elusive Unicorn.

The best advice I have for you is to test the waters. You can’t figure out what you want in a spouse if you don’t venture into the unknown and narrow down what you DON’T want. And sooner or later you’ll come across what you thought was mythological…

Do you have any additional men to add to my list? If so, what sort of points do you tend to score them while on a date?


Freshmen Year Advice

My Facebook Newsfeed is being infiltrated with collegiate move-in posts from sobbing mothers, well-wishing friends, and happy yet naive freshmen. Having stumbled through my undergrad years, I feel very well armed with both experience and confidence that I lacked most of my freshman (and sophomore and junior) year of college. So since I’m feeling generous and a state of superiority in my qualifications, I’m going to give those college freshmen out there a little advice which I wish I had known my first year of my college career:

(If the memes don’t make sense now, they will next year…)

The Art of Making Friends
The most essential part of the college experience, meeting new people and making new friends, is also the most frightening. I moved an hour away from home into a school where I did not know a single soul. Being the basic definition of an introvert at the time, I was terrified of this move for the sole reason that I had to go out and create friendships from scratch. I realized as soon as I walked onto campus that I was no longer in my high school environment where I had the same friends since preschool.

However, what I didn’t grasp until much later in the year was that every single student walking onto campus was experiencing the same emotions as me. Even if they knew one or two other people prior to beginning classes, there were 25,000 other people wandering around them who they had no clue who they were!

Here’s a secret I didn’t learn until after this revelation though: everyone’s door is open! So even if you meet a group of people and befriend them, never stop looking to expand your circle. Friendships don’t always last. People come and go in life. And by sophomore year, it’s harder to make friends as people are now in a routine and the freshmen dorm’s “open-door policy” may no longer be carried out. So expand your horizons, meet a number of intriguing and unique people, and be open to as many friends as possible!


Roommates Are Not A Fool-Safe Bet
Roommates should never be assumed as built-in friends for your college career. For me, my freshman roommate and I had very different beliefs in life. Living together was an awful experience for both of us. However, there are those rare occasions when your roommate and you are meant to be; my senior roommates became my best friends within only weeks of living together and I think of them as my family.

As I walked into my new dorm room freshman year, I thought I had a friend waiting for me. Unfortunately, just because you expect something doesn’t mean it’ll pan out that way. I definitely recommend going into a roommate situation with confidence that a friendship could blossom, but don’t be heartbroken if plans fall through. Not everyone is meant to be friends, let alone live together.

Speaking of living together, one way to try to improve relations with your roommate: don’t treat them like your parent. You moved to college and are no longer at your parents’ house, remember? So it’s time to man-up and pick up after yourself. And always make sure to ask before you borrow something of your roommate’s, even if it’s a tissue. This is not a person you’ve known all your life, so respect their space and they’ll respect you.


Homesickness: Don’t Stress About It
I’m not sure if this was a purely Ashley phenomenon, but the month leading up to my move-in date, I became obsessively nostalgic. I hung out with my high school friends daily, I skimmed yearbooks and family photo albums, and I posted on many a Facebook wall about how much I was going to miss my family and home. As I said above, going to a new place with no one you know is a very horrifying experience.

In reality, though, that fear lasted a whole five minutes after my parents walked out of my dorm room. I began jumping around the floor, walking into open rooms, and introducing myself to all the new girls around me. My persona of being a self-proclaimed introvert ended right away. And as I began to explore my new environment with new people, the independence of being “alone” had a strong, sweet taste of freedom.


The Peer Pressure Effect
I lived on a dry campus my freshman year, but when I transferred to Western (lovingly nicknamed Wastern by many), I was worried that I would begin being peer pressured into activities I really had no interest in, namely drinking and drugs.

It was quite the surprise to me, though, when I ventured to my first party that when I shook my head to a bottle of beer, no one cared. College is kind of amazing like that; there are a lot of “no judgment” zones. Just remember it’s also your responsibility to not judge anyone else’s life preferences either; the world needs all kinds and no one type of person is better than another.

Another piece of advice: if you ever feel that you’re in a “judgment” zone, then get out! You have every right to say no to anything passed your way. A crowd wanting to pressure you is not the type you want to be around. Just pick up your things, make any excuse (early class or studying for a test is always a good go-to), and leave.


Speaking Of Studying…
Do it. College is a fine time to learn the different between procrastination and time management. (Hint: employers like great time managers.) And even though freshman year brings the excitement of optional class attendance, I would recommend attending the majority. Why pay $20,000 a year for a degree you won’t ever reach if you keep failing classes? Prove to yourself and the world that you’re ready for that thing called Adulthood.


The Mandatory Dining Plan
Freshman year means freshmen dorms, and freshmen dorms mean mandatory dining plan. We all know it and we all grow to hate it. That beautiful pasta bar at Davis may look appetizing the first month, but come October and even a plate of mac n cheese might make you queasy.

Be prepared that the cafeteria food will get old. Expand your palate. Listen to the little voice in your head that sounds oddly like Mom telling you to have a salad. Change it up and try not to get bored.

Fun fact: college is where my addiction to sushi began. I wouldn’t touch the stuff prior to my schooling, but one day the usual pizza, chicken wrap, or all-day waffle maker just wasn’t cutting it… so I tried something new!

We all have had "that kid" in a class...
We all have had “that kid” in a class…

Be Involved In Everything
This is the best advice I can give you. College is the time to not only meet new people and learn new things, but it’s where you find your passions and build upon them to grow into a career and lifestyle. Join that skydiving group, enroll in that 1 credit Tai Chi course,  pick up a sign and protest at the center of campus.

I had never volunteered prior to college. Then my sophomore year I mistaken walked into a Habitat for Humanity meeting. Not wanting to be rude or be embarrassed by admitting my mistake, I stayed — and I was hooked. It’s moments like those, when you might have no idea what is going on, that make you look back years later and smile over your college years. I made some great friends at Habitat and even decided to pursue a minor in nonprofit business due to the mission behind the organization.

So don’t be afraid of what you can do on campus, and don’t be afraid that you’ll do too much. Most clubs do not require mandatory meetings, so you can pick and choose when you attend and still keep an active lifeline. Partying will only get you so far in life; it’s the deep-rooted experiences we make that mold the person we become.


Now take a breath, unpack the essentials, and get out there and start living some of the best years of your life!

And never forget what you’re actually in college for…