25 things every woman needs to know.

This.

hannah brencher.

1) Life is a steep, uphill battle but it’s fierce & it’s beautiful & you’ll be sad to see it go if you live it right.

2) New people won’t stop coming into your life and opportunities won’t stop knocking on the door but you need to have the space for them. In all you currently have– be them relationships or obligations– step back and ask yourself “why.” If you can find the answer, hold tighter. If the answer escapes you, it’s time to let something go.

3) You should resolve to be awesome for the rest of your life. Right now. Do it.

4) Leggings, no matter how much we wish, will never one day magically transform into pants. Wearing them with tops that don’t cover your bum is not cute. Please, please, please stock up on pants.

5) Goals are not a January 1st kind of thing. Set…

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An Open Love Letter to…no one, apparently.

I love you. And I do not say that lightly. I love you no matter how broken you are. No matter how bad you can be. No matter how long it took for you to love me. I love you in spite of those things. I love you enough to recognize that your mistakes do not make you. I love you enough to see through the clouds of your imperfections. I love you enough to trust you. Loving you was not a choice for me. It hit me unexpectedly but when it did, I did not reject it…even if you did. I love you in spite of yourself. You did not do anything to have to earn my love and you do not have to do anything to continue to keep it. In fact, there is nothing you can do to make me stop loving you. If you have ever tried to earn someones love or keep it, it is not worth having. That type of love will continue to have conditions. No person, no matter what mistakes they’ve made, deserves to be loved only because of contingencies. A love that says “I will love you if..” or “I can’t love you because…” is NOT love. Instead, the love you deserve is “I love you no matter what.”

Love is a force of nature. You can not command it, wish it…or make it go away. You can’t make someone love you and you can not make them stop. Love can not be imprisoned…it can not be legislated. It does not come with conditions, expectations, stipulations, or secret codes. Love, like the sun, radiates independently of our fears and desires. Moreover, love can not be turned on as some sort of reward and can not be turned off as a punishment.

Love does not allow destructive and abusive behaviors to go unchecked. Love will speak out for justice and will protest when harm is being done. Love points out the consequences of hurting oneself or others. Love will not let you be a coward. Love does allow room for pain, anger, and grief to be expressed and released. But love does not threaten to withold itself in order to get what it wants. Love cares what becomes of you. Love cares enough to help you be your best. Love will not accept you bowing out because of fear. Love will help you face your fears. Love will give you the tools you need to be who you want to be. Love will teach you how to love and accept love. Love is patient. Love is NOT manipulation. Infatuation manipulates but real love does not. Love is NOT having to compromise who you are. Someone who loves you will never ask you to change who you are in order to be loved. Love is NOT abusive/violent. Passions will become inflamed but love NEVER results in physical or emotional abuse. Love is NOT lust. Love is NOT controlling. Love does NOT hurt…ever. Love will love you whether or not you are able to give that love back. Love doesn’t expect a certain type of love in return…because love has already LOVED YOU FOR WHO YOU ARE. Love does not say “if you want to be loved by me, you must do what I want, or never love anyone else, or promise you will never leave me.” Love is commitment and loyalty. If someone loves you, you know that NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO OR SAY, that person will not walk away from you. Even when faced with seemingly bad information about the other person, love will see see only the positive.

Love wipes your tears while you cry for another person. Love holds your hand while you face difficult situations. Love delays its own healing to facilitate yours. Love realizes that its own happiness depends on yours. Love makes you feel good about yourself. Love challenges you. Love is natural. Love does’t make you anxious. Love does not make you feel crazy. Love does not withhold parts of itself from you. Love is open and caring. Love trusts you…all the time. Love is everything you deserve. And when you forget what you deserve, I will remind you.

I Am the Master of My Emotions

I am not the master of my emotions. In fact, up til now I have been a slave to them. Everything I do is led by some feeling. Most think with their heads, while I…my poor poor soul…I think with my heart.

I used to justify my emotions by stating “If more people cared a little more, the world would be a better place.” I definitely think that is true. But caring a little more is different from caring way too much about absolutely everything.

Reflecting on current and past situations I have been faced with, I always thought I ended up hurt or too involved because I was thinking too hard. But now, I realize its because I feel too hard. I feel TOO hard. My happiness is amplified. My sadness is amplified. My anxiety, my love, my fear, my anger (which I rarely experience), my excitedness, even my ambivalence are all too amplified. I FEEL TOO HARD.

But you know what…fuck that. Starting today, my emotions are now my bitch. I will own them and master them if its the last thing I do…(was that too strong? Forgive me, my desire may have been a little too amplified).

Stay tuned…

Girl, I Must (waaarrrrrnnnn yoooooou)

Picture this. Your friend just ran a marathon and she was tired. She was thirsty. She picked up a glass of what, to her, appeared to be the most refreshing water she’d ever drink. However, you knew the glass to be full of poison. One or two sips would barely hurt her, it’d maybe give her a stomachache. Massive amounts of this liquid, though, would definitely kill her. As thirsty as she is, you knew your friend would not stop after just one sip. She complains to you that the water smells funny, looks weird and she’s unsure. But even after you try to convince her not to drink it, put the glass down and you offer a sealed, untainted bottle of water to quench her thirst… She resists. For some reason, she’s really drawn to this water, this poison and you want to stop her but you can’t. So you watch…while she drinks.

Okay, I hope if that situation presented itself in real life, you’d have the good sense to smack either the glass out of your friends hand or her..whichever your passion desires. But what do you do if that refreshing glass of posion is actually a guy?

I know someone who’s run her fair share of marathons as far as relationships go. I’m talking the brutal, mud-tossing, types of marathons you see advertised on Facebook. I know she’s tired of these races. And, dear God, I know she’s thirsty. And here we are at the end of yet another of these races and she’s reaching for water. Poisonous, seductive water.

The way she describes this water to me sounds like it came from a cloudy, dirty, mosquito-infested marsh. I’ve never met him but the way she talks about him, the things he says and does to her…doesnt sound appetizing in the least bit to me. Granted, I have never run a marathon. Therefore, I accept that I do not know that panting feeling of thirst that she has turned to him to satiate. But whether or not I’ve “been there, done that, signed the guestbook,” I KNOW in my gut he’s poison. In fact, she’s admitted it too. He manipulates her. Lies to her. Possibly cheats on her. And thats just this week.

As her friend, it’s hard to watch. Unlike a literal glass, I can’t just smack him out of her hand (if I could, best believe…). So I’ve been thinking: what can I do? Of course, I’ve been her ear, her shoulder and everything I can up until this point. I’ve used all my resources and most of my energy helping her to either see the light outside of her situation with him or find the light within it. The latter has been very hard because I do not think there is any light there.

Clearly she has CHOSEN to continue this relationship with him. And although I do not support her choice, I support her. But at what point should I decide that I can’t even do that? How do you watch someone purposely hurt themselves over and over again? I am trying to protect her but there’s nothing I can do after the poison enters her body, saturates her mind… There is no antidote I can provide. So how much poison can I sit back and watch her drink?

I don’t know the answer to that yet. But I do know that WHEN (because its inevitable) her heart breaks, when she is holding on for dear life, I won’t say “I told you so.” I’ll just administer CPR then gear up to watch her run her next marathon.

This is Not a Cupcake

This is not a cupcake. This is heaven in a cup. This is irrefutable proof of Gods love for us. If rainbows and kittens and fairy dust had a party, you would get this:
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Frosting is in the Friendship Heights area of DC. If you ever want a really good, homemade cupcake, go here. They make their cupcakes fresh daily AND they make the frosting. Don’t get me started on the frosting. Sweet..sweet…frosting. *drools* The cupcake pictured is called ‘Birthday.” It is the most scrumptious, orgasmic chocolate I’ve ever tasted, topped with vanilla frosting that would make Betty Crocker cry. Its counterpart “Happy,” (not pictured) is a vanilla base with chocolate icing and is just as delicious.
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oreo This isn’t a cupcake either. This oreo deliciousness is what I imagine euphoria tastes like. The smell of chocolate when you open the container that radiates from this seduces you and puts you in a trance. Try not to stare in its eyes. It will have you doing unspeakable things: like licking the plate in a crowded cafeteria at work…not me, a friend. Or, running two blocks (you NEVER run) to get there before they close just to buy one…not me, another friend. You’ve been warned.

The icing is vanilla with Oreo cookies blended into it. I don’t think you heard me: OREO COOKIES BLENDED INTO IT! As if Oreos aren’t awesome enough in their original, unblended-into-delicious-icing-on-top-of-an-even-more-delicious-personal-sized-cake state. The wonderful bakers at Something Sweet (located in the Palisades NW with a few flagship locations around DC…google them now) combined my favorite cookie and my favorite guilty pleasure in a way that could only have been better if God came down from heaven and baked it Himself.

gross Continue reading

25 While 25…

Okay, I’ve always wanted to write one of those “25 things to do before I’m 25” type bucket lists. But, for the past 10 years, that list has only contained one item:

1. Write the list

So now that I am 25, I am challenging myself to complete a list of 25 items while I am 25. And if procrastinating 25 years wasnt enough, I’ve already lost 2 months because I turned 25 in June. I’ll update the list as I complete it. Hopefully, each item will turn into a post all its own (see item #6).
Welp, here goes nothing.

1.Go to a home team baseball and football game (Nationals and Redskins)
2.Read 25 books solely for pleasure and 5 books from my High School reading list
3.Try an exotic food whose name I can not pronounce
4.Leave the country
5.Donate blood
6.Start a blog, update regularly…oh, hey there WordPress.
7.Learn to manage my money; come up with a budget and stick to it, work on my credit
8.Leave the nest
9.Learn to drive a stick
10.Shoot something ( yes, with a gun.)
11.Play a whole song on the guitar without messing up one note
12.Go completely vegetarian
13.Go one week completely media free: no phone, computer, tv, etc except as necessary for work and emergencies
14.Attend a midnight movie premiere
15.Visit a winery
16.See a show on Broadway
17.Participate in a walk for a cure/cause
18.Drive a ridiculously expensive car
19.Do something physically adverturous: 5k maybe?
20.Change my wardrobe and splurge on a designer bag or shoes that I wouldnt normally buy AND get a suit custom tailored
21.Ride every form of transportation: car, train, bus, plane and boat
22.Take more pictures and make a scrapbook
23.Become a mentor
24.Finish crocheting the blanket I started in 2010
25.Take a walk in the rain without an umbrella

Bonus items I’d like to do before I am 30:

1.Visit Japan during Cherry Blossom season
2.Go to the Olympics
3.Go all “Eat, Pray, Love” and live in another country
4.Visit the Grand Canyon
5.Go to the top of the Washington Monument AND visit every National Memorial in DC (pics or it didnt happen)
6.Volunteer for a political campaign
7.Start a business
8.Buy a house and a brand new car
9.Play a whole song on the guitar without messing up one note
10.Write a book

The Joy of Eating

Solomon, who is regarded as the wisest man in the Bible, said it best: “So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.”

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Food is a love language for me (and many others). I grew up with grandmothers who put extra gravy on my rice because they loved me. My mother cooks THE BEST macaroni and cheese (in all its cheesy, buttery glory) on Thanksgiving and Christmas for the family, because she loves us. So, naturally, when I began to find different ways to express my love, I started cooking. At first, for others: my family, friends, even my dog. Then, eventually, just myself. My definition of “me time” was cooking a new meal and 9 times out of 10, the recipe called for more butter than I care to admit here, loads of salt, and more than one persons daily allowance of carbs, cholesterol and guilt.

Guilt?

Yes, I admit brownies and chocolate cake can make (very) me happy, but is that really the type of joy Solomon was talking about? If it is, how come I feel so guilty after my third brownie or slice of cake? Joy and guilt do not mix.

God created food for two purposes: 1)to give us the energy necessary to carry out His will, and 2) to give us joy. But satan has taken food and turned it into a temptation. He tempts us daily to overindulge, dishonor our bodies (our temples), depend on food and, eventually, shortchange our destinies. Im guilty of turning to food after a bad day to “make me feel better,” after a good day to “celebrate,” and occupy my time and mind when I’m lonely or bored. I did not realize this was problem until I found that I depended on food more than I depended on God. If He is the BREAD of LIFE, why was I eating so much bread?!…and chocolate…and cheese…and, well, you get the picture.

At 25, I have high cholesterol and other health issues because of my poor choices with food. I’ve spent way too much time fighting the battle between temporary satisfaction and longterm health and wellness.Of course, when I read what Solomon said, I exclaimed “See, eating is supposed to make you happy!” That only subdued my guilt long enough to enjoy that second cupcake. Then I was back to feeling guilty… and fat. I would beat myself up about the weight I gained but I would still go back to eating the things that contributed to the pounds. What it has taken me a long time to understand is that happiness and joy are not equal. Happiness is the result of happenings (eating a cupcake) whereas joy is longlasting even after the event is over.

It’s a struggle teaching my body to crave healthier foods. At first, salads did not make me happy or joyful. In fact, there were times where my stomach screamed at me for choosing sugar free this, low fat that. But the more persistent I am, the less I crave the bad stuff. I still enjoy an occasional cupcake but my relationship with sweets and processed foods is completely different now. After a week of eating healthy and clean, I can have a “cheat meal” and not feel guilt but instead I feel joy afterwards. That’s what Solomon meant.