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I celebrated my birthday last weekend.

Oh, birthdays. What fun they are. I love ’em. Whether it’s mine or someone else’s. When we celebrated Jill’s birthday, she talked about her word for this year. (Jill’s the bomb. Have I mentioned that? She is DA BOMB.)

As my birthday approached, I began to think more about what my word had been for the past year. And I have to say, FULL keeps creeping to the surface of my thought palace.

(My Italian Rachel used the term “thought palace” last weekend, and I can’t get it out of my THOUGHT PALACE.)

Every year, I have these goals of where I want to be at my next birthday. Sometimes they’re just that I want to be nicer to everyone and to myself. Other ones are more extensive.

I want to run 5 miles like it’s no big deal.

I want to sell a book.

I want to have skin that glows from my daily green smoothies.

I want to know the lyrics to every Beatles song.

And every year, no matter if I reach these goals or not, I feel like I’m not quite there.

Ah, the mystical land of There. The Hilary who lives in There has her act together. She’s super stylish and has managed to walk in heels like they’re flip flops. (She does something similar with wearing lipstick like it’s chapstick.) She finally has thin arms and well, thin everything, quite frankly. She gives Leslie Knope-level gifts and knits and has read all of Hemingway and knows how to use a straightener as a curling iron without scorching her hair, hands, or forehead.

Every year, I think, “This is the year when I turn into the Hilary of There.” She’s who I’m meant to be, after all. She’s who I saw myself growing up to become.

And yet, every year, I don’t quite make it, and I’m stuck scrambling together a few goals for the next big push into this adult me. “This is it,” I say. “I know you thought last year was the year for conquering the whole contoured cheek thing, but this is actually it. Pop open the blush and ruler.”

But this year was new.

23 was lovely. I decorated my first apartment when I was 23. (I had previously only just lived there.)

I had these super lazy days with my friends where we ate cookies and talked writing, and our preferred method of exercise was laughing hysterically.

Wolf, I gained weight from those cookies. (Laughing was not the calorie burner I had hoped it would be.)

I searched for a job. Found a job. Did a job. Quit a job. Got a dream job.

I learned how to work for 8 hours and still get up and do things after it’s over. (This took months of my life.)

I freaked out over student loans, and then freaked out over how God provides.

I watched my oldest niece lose her first tooth! I snuggled those girls like the treasures they are.

I played Pandemic with my family, and I never realized how alike we all are. We don’t like to lose. (Also, Thad is a cheater.)

I gained friends. These aren’t just numbers either; we’re talking 3 quality individuals who I’m so blessed to have in my life.

Jill and I ate ginormous slices of watermelon at the pool in the middle of a workday. (Hashtag unemployment.)

I graduated with my MFA. Hooray!

I grew out a pixie. Hooray!

I laughed so so so so so much. Hooray!

The night before I turned 24, I hung out with wonderful friends. Rob made the most fantastic breakfast (for dinner) of all time. We ate waffles and played board games and laughed and talked, and I found myself thinking that I didn’t want to be There anymore. I want to be here.

I think if a younger Hilary could meet me right now, she’d actually like me. I’m not perfect, and I have goals. But I prefer the Hilary I am right at this moment to the lipstick-wearing fantasy I have in my head. I do my best, I love people, and I feel so loved. I’m completely done with the obsession over There. I want Here to be the best it can be because it’s the real deal.

Here feels so full of people and color and love. Here makes me hungry for what 24 holds. (I think it’s going to be pretty fantastic.)

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goodbye, 22

I was trying to come up with some sort of list for this final post as a twenty-two year old. I thought I could write about 22 people who I’m thankful for this year. To be honest, though, I’ve been blessed with more than 22 great people, and I don’t want to leave anyone out. I could talk about my 22 favorite moments from the past year, but I don’t have pictures to go with them, which would mean a super long, super boring post. I thought maybe I could write down what my goals are for my next year, but that quickly turned into writing things like “do 50 push-ups in a row.” Yes, that’s really on my goals for the next year (and has been for the past several years).

Then, I decided I would do a quasi-sentimental post on some revelation I’ve had about life this year, but then I decided I’d rather just do the list thing (perhaps because I didn’t have any earth-shattering revelations). I hope that’s okay. (It better be.)

Here are 22 songs, movies, and books that I went nuts over and/or taught me something during my 22nd year of life.

  1. “Restless,” Switchfoot
  2. “ROAR,” Katy Perry
  3. “Give Me Love,” Ed Sheeran
  4. “10,000 Reasons,” Matt Redman
  5. “Say Something,” A Great Big World
  6. “I Won’t Back Down,” Tom Petty
  7. “Explosions,” Ellie Goulding
  8. About Time
  9. Austenland
  10. Strictly Ballroom
  11. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
  12. Star Trek: Into Darkness
  13. Frozen
  14. The Impossible
  15. Wonder, R.J. Palacio
  16. The Fault In Our Stars, John Green
  17. Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson
  18. On Writing, Stephen King
  19. Surprised By Joy, C.S. Lewis
  20. NOS4A2, Joe Hill (This book taught me that it’s okay to quit reading a book, even when you’re 500 pages in.)
  21. Divergent, Veronica Roth
  22. I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts, Nora Ephron

Here’s to 23!

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happy birthday, mom

It turns out that writing a post about your mom is nerve-wracking.

I’ve tried to write this five different times. A blog post. Five times.

So let’s just say that this will not be life-altering nor will it convey all of the wonderful, good things I can or want to say about my mom. Okay? Okay.

Now, then, let’s start with a movie because that’s usually a good place.

The Help. That’s right. I’m going there. I really love that movie. My mom and I dragged my dad to go see it, and it was probably one of the best movie-going experiences I’ve ever had. I think our theater was full of fans of the book; they were all cheering and laughing and crying (yes, really) through the entire thing. The Miller family enjoyed it, but I’m sorry(?) to report that we weren’t howling like the rest of the audience.

Actually, the biggest impression the movie had on us was a single line.

No, not the “eat my…” one. Although, that was pretty great.

I mean the classic. “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”

Now, at first my mom and I sort of repeated these words back and forth to each other because it was just one of those funny-sounding quotes, like so many in our repertoire.

“I don’t KNOW, Margo!”

“I like you very much. Just as you are.”

“He’s had 152 moles removed, so now he has 152 pockmarks on his face.

The number of people who think he looks like Clark Gable.

The number of people who think he looks like a Clark Bar.”

“Boooon-TT cake.”

“Her shriveled little legs.”

Did I give enough quotes? Oh, good.

The Help line became another in the rotation. Mom would (will) end an email or a card with it, and it’s funny and sweet. I mean, those are lovely words to read. What I realized recently, though, is that this isn’t new.

My mom has been telling me a version of those words my entire life.

Every time she tells me I’m beautiful because of my heart, that I can be anything I want because of my brain, and that she will always love me no matter what, she gives me what Aibileen gives Mae Mobley.

How many people don’t get to hear that? How many people grow up thinking they’re stupid and ignored and unloved? Too many.

My mom is a spectacular mom. It’s not because she’s a brilliant, incredible, intelligent, beautiful woman (although, she is). She’s spectacular because she builds others up. She is the most caring person I have ever met in my life, and I’m so in awe that God made me her daughter. Not everyone gets the best mom in the world; not everyone gets a mom who lets them know how capable they are.

Every little girl, every child of every age, deserves those words, and I’m so thankful that I get to hear them from the woman I admire most.

In case you haven’t heard it today: “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”

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10 reasons my dad is awesome

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I’ve been told that using the word “awesome” as a writer is lazy language; however, this is a moment when the word is entirely appropriate.

10 Reasons My Dad Is Awesome

1. He once ran over our cat on the way out of the driveway on vacation. This fits with the fact that Dad approaches vacations like Clark Griswold, and Clark W. Griswold is awesome!

2. My awesome dad dressed up as Harry Potter for the midnight premiere of Deathly Hallows Part II.

3. Dad brought me home after getting my wisdom teeth pulled, and he didn’t make a video about it or ever mention the crazy stuff I’m sure I said, instead he got me a milkshake and drove home.  Which reminds me, Dad will impulsively add milkshakes to drive-thru orders, and it’s awesome!

4. Dad will give you advice on or talk to me about anything; he genuinely wants to be interested in whatever I’m interested in. Awesome dad work!

5. When I got a B- in the fourth grade, Dad wasn’t mad. Thanks, Dad.  You’re awesome.

6. Dad knows a lot about everything, and that’s awesome.

7. Once on vacation, we had to pull over to a hotel for the sole purpose to watch an IU basketball game. IU awesomeness.

8. Dad has these incredible chewing muscles that flex in his forehead.  Yes, I know everyone has these, but Dad’s are like The Rock’s biceps in his forehead.  It’s awesome.

9. It’s because of Dad that I know the storylines of Tremors 1, 2, 3, and 4 and of most Steven Segal, Chuck Norris, and Bruce Willis movies.  Awesome.

10. Dad makes it clear that he is proud of his kids and loves them no matter what, and that makes him the best dad in the world.

Happy Birthday to my awesome daddy-o!

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