Category: My Freaking Awesome Life

How I See You ~ Part 3

My sister, Aleigha, has a insanely active imagination and colorful personality. After seeing Courtney’s transformation i my first “How I See You” post, she willingly sat on a stool for an hour while I painted her face until we got these incredible photos above.

The way I see her now isn’t the same as I’ve seen her as a little girl. Then, she was everybody’s girly girl, a petite little princess who enjoyed the spotlight.

But like may teenagers do, she’d begun to redefine herself as she slowly developed her skill as an artist. While I paint and sketch portraits, she’s dived into the world of animation, cartoons, comics, and anime; growing int our favorite nerdy tomboy.

I could tell her desire to look and feel beautiful never went away. We both struggle with our self image in a similar way, but she would have kicked and screamed if I’d put her in a dress. Her style didn’t go with the flow of modern trends, so I decided to try something a bit out of the ordinary. The art she creates is a pure reflection of herself. BOLD, FUN, DRAMATIC, and EXPRESSIVE. A true character one would find in a classic Archie Comic. Because classic is probably the best way to describe her.

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How I See You Project ~ Part 2

It only takes one photo to tell a story. The man you see here is someone I had the pleasure of meeting last September. He just returned home after being stationed in New York. After his active term in the Army was over, he started a life that was much different than the chaos he was used to, even since childhood.

While respecting his privacy, all I can say his how much I admire him for following his desires to find peace and truth. In Palmyra, New York, he learned about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. For a year he read the Book of Mormon, taking his time to read, ponder and pray until he chose to learn more.

When he moved back to Arizona, I won’t lie, I was immediately fascinated after spotting him at church. And thankfully he was more amused then creeped out, but eventually our friendship solidified and I learned just how awesome he truly is. At first glance, one could easily assume him to be a nonmember or convert. His tattoos are the first to give that impression, but to me they’re proof of his artistic talent considering he did a few himself.

What’s cooler is his heritage. Just recently I learned that not only is he Mexican descent, but part Native American as well. Lately he’s been diving into family history, which brings us to this photo here. We took a very long road trip to St. George, Utah to hike Zion’s National Park, and walk the grounds of the oldest running LDS temple in history. We stood on decades worth of history and he asked me to take a picture of him.

Originally I had the intention of taking different posed photos with him. I wanted this project to highlight some of his best features, which includes his smile. Instead, I found the best angle and pose to take one photo that spoke volumes to me.

On the way there, someone was very quick to profile us. I didn’t blame that person for jumping to conclusions. But what they saw in my friend was only the surface. But what I’ve seen since the beginning is a man who has always turned his back on the past to face God’s light. Not that he forgets it entirely, but embraces where his past has lead him so he can learn and continue to move forward.

If he’s reading this right now, he’s for sure laughing at how much of poetic cheeseball I am. He’s not one for being in the spotlight. But how I see you, is how God sees you. And I hope this picture will remind everyone to do the same for all people. I think I speak for everyone when I also say, thank you for your service.

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New Photography Project! “How I See You”

As an artist, I love trying new mediums and expanding my creativity beyond the paintbrush. Recently I decided to do a new project where I capture the closest people in my life in the way I see them. My first subject is my youngest sister, Courtney.
Courtney was born under severe circumstances that left her in the NICU for 8 days, three weeks sooner than doctors expected. She grew into a brilliant girl with an active imagination, known to be our tough as nails Tom Boy. But as her big sister, watching her blossom into a young woman, a trait I always saw was how delicate and graceful she is with timeless features.  To me, angelic and fairylike. Her response to that…a sarcastic, “Okay, Chelsea. Whatever you say…” She never really liked getting her picture taken, but with endless pleading…she agreed.

My original plan was to create a fashion forward look using products I found at the 99 cent store, which I did! I purchased her makeup and made the flower crown myself the night before. The dress was once owned by an old roommate who gave it me, and I passed onto Courtney. The whole look cost under 20 dollars.

Courtney was skeptical at first, especially when I started using the liquid liner and dusting eye shadow on her cheek bones.

But after 3o minutes of hair, makeup and finding the perfect angles, I began to edit…and as soon as I got what I was looking for, I showed her the final product. Her face lit up. “They turned out better than I expected,” she said with the biggest smile on her face. No matter what time of day, in whatever state she’s in, Courtney has always been a beautiful girl. And like many, it takes a new perspective for us to see ourselves as others see us. And it wasn’t just the hair and makeup…it was the persona she stepped into. These pictures reminded me how much she loved dressing up as Cinderella when she was little. The funny thing is, no matter how old we get, we never stop playing dress up. And this was a lovely reminder that once Cinderella, always Cinderella!

Here are the final favorites!

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Words On The Rocks

As a Mormon millennial, and a young single adult, the singles ward can be an intimidating place. With the talented Rockford Lines, we give you the survival guide to the world of DATING.

 

Does everyone remember my first post, “Do The Creep”? Well it was actually direct response to this guy! He had posted a video sharing his opinion, and we banded together to talk about the creepers in the world from both male and female perspectives.

 

FUN FACTS:

  • We came up with the idea of the show on a group hiking trip.
  • During the long drive to the trail, we figured out we had a lot to talk about and both wanted to start a web series.
  • It took us an hour to figure out our background, camera placement, lighting, and to come up with what we were going to say.
  • The title is based on Rockford’s name if you haven’t guessed already.
  • The intro was my idea, and Rockford geniusly recorded the music for it.
  • I roped in Rockford’s brother to hold the Sprite bottle in intro.
  • Everything we say isn’t scripted, nor do we know what the other person is going to say next. We pretty much lay out a topic and start talking.
  • Rockford and I met a year ago and we still attend the same singles ward.
  • No, we are not dating.
  • Rockford did all the cutting and editing himself.
  • His full name is Ruskin Rockford Lines IV. But he strongly prefers Rockford.
  • Only because some have asked…yes, this is my natural hair color. I’ve never dyed it.

 

Cheers to you, XO

~ Chelsea

 

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Amazing Brownies and Mistletoe Madness

There’s a brownie recipe at the end 🙂 so keep reading.

At the annual conference for the American Night Writer’s Association, I heard a cool guy say, “Something amazing happens here” should be written down when you can’t figure out how to bridge the chapters in your book. Turns out the same thing can be applied to life.

A year ago I was sitting in my old apartment in Utah, planning out my entire year on a piece of poster board and a green Crayola marker. I made so many plans; mostly short term goals set for each month. The kind I’ve wanted to achieve in years past and you guessed it, most of them were not accomplished.

Naturally life still gave me incredible things anyway. Sometimes we writers have the beginning and end to our novels, but have no clue what to put in the middle, so we leave it blank and write, “Something amazing happens here” and get to it when inspiration hits.

We don’t really know how the story comes together until it’s finished. But when it does, it’s rarely anything we would have originally planned for. But that’s the cool part! We surprise ourselves, we learn what inspires us, we discover what great and hard things it took to put those words down.

The same thing applies when we make our New Year’s resolutions while we look back on the ones we made the year before. I had no intentions of moving to Arizona, of quitting my two stable jobs, packing all that I could in my jeep, and driving through the desert to a future that wasn’t planned out at all. I gained new friends, a new family even, and the greatest opportunity of getting my book published. They were dreams I dared not hope for because they were goals I didn’t think were reasonable enough to accomplish.

But yesterday I was driving down the road, thinking about the goals I didn’t get around to; long term ones that had to do with my health and relationships—the usual ones that can take a toll on our self-worth. And I ended up pulling into a Walmart parking lot, cutting the engine and having a good cry for no other reason than to just let go of the hurt built up over the year.

In every story, amazing things happen, but not without conflict. Otherwise characters don’t grow. But it’s the conclusion where all the work is put together into something great. Sometimes it takes more than one full rotation around the sun to get there.

So I don’t give up hope, but a little discouragement is natural and it’s okay to take a minute to grieve about it. I ended up making brownies, and I think most can agree there’s something therapeutic about baking something—not from a box—but from scratch, that heals the soul.

After a brief indulgence, I thought about what to plan for 2017. I have a basic blueprint, a few dreams floating in my head. But like the great J Scott Savage said, “Something amazing happens here.” And keeping that attitude every day, usually gives room for the universe to make it so.

And because I promise you a bit of mistletoe madness, my story of the week doesn’t involve mistletoe, because I never received a mistletoe kiss before. It’s still a goal I have, and a goal I’ll never give up on. But as far as romance goes, I recently helped a good friend of mine surprise my roommate with a bouquet of white roses, which I think gives us all hope that classic romance is not dead.

And my friends, I don’t know how the universe was on my side, but it actually went perfectly. Those two ended up having a mistletoe kiss, which I didn’t resent…much, at least 😉 But truly, they were another couple I could add to my list of relationships. The ones where people try to make it work.

The honeymoon phase will end sometime, but being able to say, “Hey, remember when you totally lied about breaking our date, plotted with my roommate to ‘call the pizza guy’ who hid in the bathroom so I’d open the door to find you standing there with a bouquet of flowers?” …it brings back the memory of all the funny and gooey feelings you had when it happened. And because memories do fade over time, taking a second honeymoon, or three, or seventeen ain’t a bad idea.

Chelsea’s Homemade Brownies

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp. butter

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

2 eggs

1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. cocoa powder

1/2 cup flour

With an electric mixer, beat together butter, sugar and vanilla until creamy. Add eggs slowly. Then stir in cocoa powder and flour with a spoon. Pour into a greased 9’9 pan, and bake at 325 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Let cool and enjoy!

Until next time with whatever amazing thing comes to mind, I wish you all a happy New Year.

Cheers to you, XO

~ Chelsea

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Do the Creep

Today I’m posting a quick response to a good question brought up on Facebook. “Why are there so many creepers?” Well friends, here’s my answer…

Creepy has become a term that quite a few people use loosely. When some people, not all, but a hefty majority say, “I was out with this person, and they were super creepy.” It really means, “I’m just not attracted them, but I don’t want to come across as a hater, so I’m gonna blame it on them in the most vague way possible.” Or maybe… “I’m just not attracted to them, so I’m emphasizing little things that bother me to prove my point.”

Because let’s face it, no one wants to be labeled a hater, or be that person who points out flaws in others for no reason. But lately “creepy” has become a word that legitimizes the criticism of someone’s normal personality, but just didn’t quite meet a particular person’s standards.

Okay then…so they don’t meet your standards. That’s fine. It’s okay to have them. It’s okay to have certain desires and requirements. But “creepy” is preferably defined as any type of noun that makes a person uncomfortable or sometimes unsafe. But what’s uncomfortable or unsafe to you may actually be endearing to someone else. We live in a weird world where it’s okay to be expressive and some people roll with it differently.

So be very careful who you label as a creeper, because it could actually ruin a good person’s reputation. If you do start to feel unsafe; feeling threatened or insecure by someone, then it’s absolutely okay to make it known. You have intuition and you should use it. I address not one specific gender, by to all by saying get out that pepper spray.

But right now I’m talking about the genuine people who work very hard to lower their pride and gather as much confidence as possible to make a conversation with someone who is very hard to approach. Because good for them! They’re taking initiative and you should commend them for that. And commend yourself for being a person someone wants to get to know. Doesn’t necessarily mean they’re interested in you romantically. Basic social skills are required in start up situations.

But until they ask for your number, don’t assume they want it. And if they do for the romantic reasons, and you’re not interested, there are many responses you can give without figuratively kicking them in the dirt. Like, “Thank you for asking, but I’m not interested in you that way. But you’re great and I wish the best of luck to you.” And if they start putting you down for that type response, or continue to pressure you until you’re uncomfortable, then you may call them a creeper because that’s just crappy behavior.

If you aren’t straightforward, they might not take the hint. In fact they may take it as playing hard to get, which can actually make the situation worse. Neither of you need that kind of stress in your life.

At the same time, if a person accepts a date or gives you their number, proceed with caution. That person is considering getting to know you better. It doesn’t always mean, “I’m super into you and hope after the date is over, we start planning the rest of our lives.” A date is not a contract, so neither of you should act under that impression. If after the first date and they’re not interested…congratulations! At least they gave you a chance and it just didn’t work out. You don’t have to think, “What if?” anymore.

And if they don’t initiate conversations with you after that, it’s likely they’re putting their time and energy elsewhere. And please believe me when I say it isn’t worth it for you to keep a friendship alive when that happens. Unless they put the same amount of friendship effort as you do, they’ll start freaking out irrationally. And usually, not always, but usually the people who don’t know how to say, “I’m not interested” they think ignoring is the way to go. And to you people who think so, it’s not. Again, it’s just crappy behavior.

And to all you people who do get a polite rejection, please understand that those people might not have anything against you. It doesn’t mean that you’re unattractive to everyone. It just means they have a particular standard and know beforehand that a relationship isn’t going to work. That standard is sometimes brought up with a certain background, religion or chemistry that they already know won’t match up with yours. If those standards don’t meet, odds are you two won’t last very long. So please don’t wallow in that. You don’t have to be happy about it, but at least be content in knowing you probably avoided a catastrophe of some sort.

It’s also not worth it to wallow over the people who are just plain mean. Some people try to get your attention in rude ways. And some people enjoy rejecting others because it gives them a sense of power. And that’s because they both carry insecurities they’re still sorting through, and it isn’t your job to try and break down those barriers. They’ll start taking advantage of your willingness to receive that attention. It’s too much drama, and IT’S NOT WORTH IT. Trust me.

And sometimes those people probably experienced enough creepers in their lives where if anyone were to show interest in them, they start to shut down. Again, not your job to push past those barriers. Sometimes walking away is the best option regardless of good intentions. If it’s not received, it doesn’t work. But you did try, and that’s all that matters sometimes. And if you’re the one who has insecurities, don’t let it stop you from having a conversation. It’s okay to be cautious, but you might gain a real support system that will one day help you through it. I know it because it happened for me.

Now I know my advice doesn’t apply to all. You know yourself better than I do. I simply enjoy living in a world where everyone in a room can be friends.

So until next time…

Cheers to you, XO

~ Chelsea

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Whoopee Cushions and Dreams of Cowboys

Advice to all you people out there, if you’re ever set up on a blind date, the first 60 seconds are critical in making a first impression. Which is why if you show up wearing a whoopee cushion costume, unless they’re into that, it’s probably not going to work out the way you expect.

About a year after I started college, I could count the amount of dates I’ve had on one hand. I was awkward and still learning how to dress myself. But a friend had agreed to set me and my second roommate up on a group date for Halloween. It was going to be very low key. Bowling and going for shakes after. No plans to dress up or doing anything Halloween related.

Lame? Yes. But we were excited, and this was back in the day when not everyone had social media, and flip phones weren’t going extinct yet. So I had no idea what my date looked like until he showed up on my doorstep. Now I don’t blame the guy for wanting to make a lasting impression. He was truly a sweet guy and fun to bowl with. But boy was it hard to take him seriously wearing a costume that represented a toy that makes fart noises when you squeeze it. Kinda kills the mood when you’re hugging the man goodbye.

It would be a few years before my dating life really took off, but getting closer to the holiday season that year, the colder it got, the more we stayed indoors. And tis the season to sniff and sneeze, because I dove into reading when I came down with a nasty two week cold before finals. Missing work and classes was not an option for me, so reading romantic Christmas themed novellas helped me unwind after the busy, miserable hours on my feet.

My roommates had been throwing books my way, sometimes literally, and I remember reading “Dusty Britches” which was another Marcia Lynn McClure novel that open a new idea for me, as well as help me discover I’m a huge sucker for old western romance. Especially when they involve dreamy cowboys.

The leading woman, having a broken heart and a strong distrust for men, learned how to let her walls down and really love a man she hadn’t stopped loving since she was young. Like her, letting go of pride, anger and old grudges was something I learned the hard way a bit later in my life.

Halfway through book, I sat in my college apartment dining room, and by that I mean table in the corner of the tiny kitchen, eating strawberries in my pajamas, when my roommate’s entire family showed up on our doorstep to surprise her. Her parents and five siblings had driven 5 hours just to visit their two daughters on a completely random day just for the fun of it.

At the time my parents had been divorced about a year, I was the only adult child who sat through endless phone calls with one parent while they vented about the other. Though I commend them for how hard they worked to keep things as civil as possible for their children’s sake, at the time it had been years since I didn’t worry over things falling apart at a family gathering. And to witness it was like observing a Steve Irwin’s wildlife special.

*Crikey! Here we have a loving family in an unnatural habitat. The cubs have real high energy, but the parents sit and watch together with pride and love, while they laugh, catch up on happy family news, and share a hearty meal at the watering hole.*

But seriously though, growing up, I didn’t see my parents showing affection very often. There was some here and there, but not like the way her parents sat on the couch and held hands without even thinking about it, her resting her head on his shoulder; or sneaking kisses whenever they had the chance, and being incredibly cute while taking pictures together. And not once did their daughters groan or say, “Ewww!” when it happened. It usually followed with one watching them lovingly, saying, “Aren’t they adorable?”

Suddenly it wasn’t just a fictional novel I was reading anymore. This was a real couple with a marriage that lasted over two decades. And the feelings they were sharing was strong enough to be seen and felt by others. It impacted me so much, I wanted to know their story and what it took to get to that level. Most importantly, I wanted to know how it felt myself.

Watching them was the water and nutrients I needed for the seed of hope that was planted. Little did I know it was only a matter of time before I learned firsthand what that felt like, and also, it’s polar opposite…

So until next time with some holiday love and mistletoe madness…

Cheers to you, XO

~ Chelsea

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Cheers to You

Have you ever been sitting in class, driving to work, washing your dog, cooking rice, or fixing your toaster, and have the idea…?
But then you dramatically pause, twisting your face in that “Is something fishy burning in the kitchen?” kind of way, and wonder what the heck you’re gonna write about. That’s when you throw the hopeless toaster in the dumpster and start looking for a purpose. Or maybe you start writing about the toaster, but either way you’re thinking of ideas. Your planting seeds hoping to find a purpose in the book you want to write.

I was 16 when my purpose was planted after hearing a quote from a TV show, “Love is what’s left after the passion and the romance dies.” And I heard the married person in the room sadly agree with that statement.

It was like taking a rubber band snap to the heart. I mean, did that happen with everyone? Is that why marriages didn’t work out? Is that why all the relationships I looked up to were falling apart?

Well obviously it works out for some people, so what keeps the spark alive for them? Is it even a spark? People keep talking about it, so what does it feel like? And ladies and gentlemen…that’s when the seed began to take root. But it wasn’t until I was 19 when I saw the sprout. I wasn’t much of a reader, but my roommates were, and one had shoved a novel into my hands and said…
I wasn’t all for the idea…
Convinced, I read the book “Take a Walk with Me” by Marcia Lynn McClure. It was a Christmas themed love story and the lead male character says to the female love interest, “There’s no conflict, Cozy.” – “Sometimes people really do just fall in love and live happily ever after.”


There it was! It was Marcia who had a philosophy, wrote it by telling an incredibly happy story that left me smiling the whole time, and it led me to new questions, theories and a determination to find out more. Obviously relationships get messy, so what happens then? But there I was, 19, with no dating experience whatsoever, so what did I need to learn to start something that lasts forever? Better yet, happily ever after?

And that’s why I read close to 400 romance novels in the last 5 years. No joke. I didn’t get out much for a while. But in truth I wanted ideas; the kind authors and filmmakers put out there because they enjoy true love stories as much as I did. And those stories began to turn my purpose into idea, which then turned into stories of my own.

When I started writing them down, I simultaneously lived my own experiences. And gradually my stories changed as I began to figure out my reality. I found out firsthand what that spark was, but learned a little of what it takes to ignite it into a flame. Books and movies, though created for entertainment, are possible answers to our “what if?” questions. Sometimes it happens quickly, and there isn’t much conflict involved for two people to be together. And sometimes it’s extremely wild and messy. But if it’s worth fighting for, then it’s worth keeping alive. Or finding again if it’s ever lost.

And for all the characters I could personally relate with, it was wonderful knowing there was someone out there who knew my story; who could put words to my feelings. But more importantly, inspire me to look for something great and not settle for anything less. And right away I wanted to do the same for someone else. Everyone deserves to believe the passion and romance lives on and grows stronger with every passing year and battle won.

So until next Sunday with some personal hilarious date stories and what specifically inspired me…

Cheers to you, XO

~ Chelsea

 

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