The following is a list of all entries from the My life category.
I’m graduating high school next month. OHMYGOSH. When did that even happen???? One hundred and sixteen long months of questions, papers, equations, projects, and late nights are all wrapping up in less than thirty days (give or take a few, haha). I’m going to be finished with high school. Finished with this phase of my life. Oh my gosh.
Being seventeen is hard. Gosh, still being a high schooler is hard. Sometimes I feel so stuck. I’m not really an adult, but I’m no longer a child. It’s like those awkward early-teen years when you find yourself fluttering between the kids table, stacked with pbjs and animal crackers, and the adult table, where fancy food and wedding rings and sophisticated talks about mortgages and marriage abound. You just feel so in-between.
Sometimes, it’s hard to be content at this point in my life. I want to be doing things. To be working that much harder to accomplish something great with my life. Everything seems to be holding me back. School, commitments, age… I just want to close my eyes and wish on a star and wake up a few years older with a perfect boyfriend and a plan for my future and my whole life just together. (Or, in the words of Jenna Rink, “Thirty and flirty and thriving…”)
And it’s true. Sometimes I get so caught up thinking about the ever-elusive future, that I forget I’m living in the present. I forget what it’s like to live in the present. In the here and now. In the amazing and fun world of a seventeen-year-old girl.
My life isn’t super glamorous. I get zits every now and then and sometimes I fight with my parents occasionally I just get fed up and want to do something else and be something else. A grownup. A mature, responsible adult.
But if I was a mature, responsible adult, would I still be able to sit in bed and do my economics homework in my pajamas? Would I still be able to go to the movies with my friends and laugh so hard that the cranky love-birds in front of us threaten to kick us out, and the old people across the theater wrinkle their noses in delight that there are in fact some decent young people nowadays who appreciate a good Billy Wilder film? If I wasn’t seventeen years old, would I still dance around to “We Are Never, Ever Getting Back Together” and think it’s not-even-funny how extremely funny it is to put a goat in a Taylor Swift music video?
I have the whole rest of my life to chase after my dreams and climb mountains of success. I have (Lord-willing) years and years ahead of me to fill up with responsibility and stress and grown-up duties. But how much more time do I have to just be a kid. Granted, a very cool, very witty kid. But a kid nonetheless. In a few short months, I’ll be a woman. A very fun, very cute woman, obviously. But still. Time is ticking. How am I going to make the most out of this last month of high school?
I’m going to laugh.
I’m going to dance.
I’m going to sing at the top of my lungs and not care that I don’t hit a single note.
I’m going to stay up until four in the morning with my best friends, and then make loads and loads of waffles for breakfast.
I’m going to take pictures of myself doing weird, weird things.
I’m going to blush when I mess up and then get over it and get on with my life.
I’m going to live.
And I’m going to enjoy every second of it.
[Caution: This post contains some very, very embarrassing old photos so please, no judgment]
You may have heard me talk before about my previous ambitions of being a Broadway actress/singer/dancer/all-around-star. It all started when I was about ten or so, and someone got me to watch “Phantom of the Opera.” Ding, ding, ding! There you have it, folks. I was hooked. I dreamed of being Christine and getting to wear pretty lacy dresses and sashay around candle-lit stages with the fog glowing in the stage lights. Seriously, it was all I ever thought about. I bought posters of New York City and hung them in my room. I begged my mom to let me go and visit. I begged my grandpa to take me to a Broadway play. And I memorized every word of “Phantom”, just in case I happened to get my lucky break when some talent scout randomly asked me to sing “All I Ask of You” in the grocery store one day. You never know. It could happen.
Anyway, when I was eleven years old, my grandpa announced that he was going to take me and my cousin Rena, along with our moms, to New York City for one long, adventure-filled weekend. There was only one slight catch. We were going in the middle of February.
To this day, I’m not sure if I’ve ever been so cold in my life. Seattle in January didn’t have anything on a February day in NYC. We lasted about thirty seconds on top of the empire state building, because the arctic breezes nearly fast-froze us. We avoided Central Park, horse-and-buggy rides, and anything that would involve us being outside for more than thirty minutes at a time.
Thank goodness there was only one place I wanted to go that was completely indoors and very-well heated. And that was Broadway. Okay, okay, I know that Broadway is actually a street, and that there are tons of theaters that play tons of shows that range from the childish to the sleazy. But there was only one building I was thinking about, and that was the one with the big blazing signs that read, “Phantom of the Opera” out front. They dazzled, they glowed. It was love at first sight.
We got all dressed up and I distinctly remember that being the first ever night I wore makeup. My cousin wore bright blue eyeshadow and I somehow thought it would be cool to wear hot pink lipgloss and we both donned our best little black dresses for the performance. My grandpa even brought his own tux. Gosh, we were so sophisticated.
I remember that as being the best night of my life, up until that point. I knew every word, every line, every plot twist. But I fell in love all over again. With Broadway. With the stage. With my supposed future.
Well, if you’re reading my blog today, you’ll probably realize that I am, in fact, not a Broadway star. Why? Because one day, I realized I can’t sing. Or dance particularly well. And I don’t exactly have that “star-like” quality that makes people shell out big bucks to come and see your face highlighted in lights.
So I write. And take pictures. And do just about anything possible to stay behind-the-scenes, if you will. But I still have my little indulgences. I hadn’t listened to a showtune in years (Okay, okay, besides “Defying Gravity”, which I completely love and blast all the time, despite having never seen nor knowing anything about the play “Wicked”. Because I’m weird like that), but when my mom surprised me with the “Les Miserables” soundtrack for Easter, I lit up like a little girl on Christmas morning. And proceeded to play it five times in a row on our long ride to Cincinnati, and sing every single line with overly dramatic flair, just to make my mom laugh. “Had you seen her today you might now how it feeeeels… To be struck to the bone in a moment of breathless deliiiiight…”
We all need a little something in our lives to remind us of the dreams we once held high and lofty. And maybe it won’t always be my dream to be a writer, but I sure know I’ll never forget the “breathless delight” that I get from telling a good story. Even an embarrassing one. Like the one I can’t believe I just told you now.
Whew! That was a crazy week! Sorry I have been a little bit elusive this past week, but I was busy working hard at the 2013 Midwest Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio! It was amazingly fun trip and I felt so blessed to have been given the opportunity to speak in front of so many eager homeschool parents and students, and to meet them face to face and hear about their lives.
I do a wide variety of speaking engagements, from schools to libraries to conventions, and I have to say that homeschoolers are some of my absolute favorite people to be around. Because I am a homeschooler, duh. Therefore I love talking to other people whose lives are similar to mine and who I feel I can really encourage and inspire with my story.
The week had so many highlights, I’m really not sure where to start, but I thought I’d just record all of my favorite moments for you all like a photo diary of sorts!
On Wednesday, my mom and I drove up from Virginia to Ohio on a ten-hour long road trip that lasted us pretty much half the day because obviously we 1) HAD to stop and eat. Several times. And 2) HAD to stop and take pictures (well, at least I did). When I think back on it, ten hours is a loooong time, but it didn’t seem long at all because my mom and I intensely debated everything under the sun for at least half the car ride, then we belted out the “Les Miserables” soundtrack for the other half and talked about how absolutely dreamy Eddie Redmayne is as Marius. (Yes, this is how we pass our time) But seriously, it was an absolutely gorgeous drive that I totally want to take again sometime with my sister so I can do a ton of portraits by all the beautiful old barns in Ohio. But yeah, we were glad when we finally saw this sign:
Not that I didn’t totally love West Virginia! Because I did. The Blue Ridge Mountains always make me drop my jaw, and I’ve always said I preferred mountains and valleys to oceans or farmlands. There’s just something about the hills and rolling fields of cattle that make my heart happy. Also, the Shenandoah Valley is where I’m living when I grow up. I’ve already decided.
When we got to the convention center, we were quick to set up my booth and get some photos by it for posterity (aka to wave in front of my kids one day and say, “See? Mommy had a life! She had her own banner and everything!” when they make me feel old and lifeless).
I was also fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to co-present two workshops with my wonderful CPA (certified public accountant) Carol Topp on the topics of “Teens and Microbusinesses” and “How You (Or Your Child) Can Become a Published Author”. Think I had anything to say on those topics? You’re probably very right.
Even I was completely shocked at the amazing response our workshops received. Both sessions were completely packed, standing-room-only, with kids sitting on the floors at our feet and adults pressed up against the walls and standing in the hallways, listening through the open doors. Wow. Talk about feeling like a celebrity! (And in this photo you can only see half the room!)
After the workshops, the number of teens and parents that came up to talk to me was absolutely overwhelming. And what I found funny was that while most of them were trying to tell me how much I had encouraged their children, *I* was the one feeling encouraged and inspired all over again every time I talked to someone new who was interested in the same things I am! One girl even broke down in tears when she was at my booth, and her parents had to explain that she had always wanted to be an author and never thought it was possible in her teens and as a homeschooler. I just about cried myself, it was so sweet. But I made many new friends and even had a few people ask to take photos with me, which was a total celebrity moment again. And I even met blog reader Rosie, who had driven up to Cincinnati to see me! Yay!
While I’m definitely not sold on the idea of Ohio, and you probably won’t find me building a summer home there, Cincinnati was definitely beautiful in the early morning light. The sun casting beams down the old historic streets in the downtown section was just lovely. I couldn’t resist snapping a few photos. And the weather was just perfect! Not that we really got to enjoy it much, but when we were setting up and packing down our booths, or running out to grab a bite to eat, we just had to smile at the warm breeze that greeted us.
Our little trip finally had to come to an end, though, and my mom and I spent all day yesterday driving back to old Virginny, listening to “Les Mis” yet again, and singing aloud to all the old country music radio stations we stumbled across in the West Virginia area (and, if I’m being honest, replaying “We are Never Ever Getting Back Together” a few times, just to be obnoxious). A few random and happy surprises awaited us on our way home, though. First we randomly happened upon the first ever Bob Evans restaurant. Our stomachs were growling about lunchtime, and we pulled off the interstate and drove through middle-of-nowhere Ohio where this giant Bob Evans was sitting smack-dab in the middle of a bunch of fields with signs like, “Bring your quilt to our quilt show this weekend!” signs everywhere. Yep, it was the site of the original Bob Evans and it even had the historic house where the Evans children grew up. Weird.
We also stopped about suppertime in the absolutely gorgeous town of Staunton, Virginia, which is where I’ve decided to move on day. Firstly because it’s in the middle of nowhere and is completely surrounded by mountains, with quaint little historic houses scattered around on hilly streets that absolutely called out to me. And secondly because I found the vintage shop of vintage shops tucked away there, and promptly fell in love. An entire attic filled with hundreds of vintage clothes. No wonder they label it a ”Vintage Wonderland”. Also, I just realized I’ve begun a nice little habit of going vintage shopping every time I go out of town for a book signing. Let’s keep this tradition going, shall we?
Overall, it was a fantastic trip and one I hope to make again next year! For those of you who are convention-goers but didn’t get a chance to come and see me in Ohio, I will also be speaking at the ENOCH Convention in New Jersey May 17-18, and HEAV in Virginia June 6-8. And I’d love to do even more conventions next year, so if you have a local convention you’d like to recommend to me, please do so in the comments section!
(This is me on the last day of our trip, coming back to Virginia. I mistakenly asked my mom “Does my hair look okay?” As if ten hours in the car was going to leave me with an even decently good hair day)
I’m just tickled pink to announce the launch of my sister Hannah’s spring line of skirts for her business Hannah Everly Designs!
Can I just say that I think this is my favorite collection of her’s yet? You guys remember the super cute wrap skirts she started out with last year, and of course you remember fall’s adorable (and highly pin-able) bow skirts. But don’t you just love these fresh, springy patterns? I absolutely die over the polka dot one, and have already requested one for myself. And the yellow gingham and coral would be perfect for spring and summer!
Anyway, Hannah has graciously offered a giveaway for blog readers, so listen up!
Up for grabs is one custom made Hannah Everly bow skirt in coral.
These skirts are so well made and Hannah completely custom makes them to your exact measurements! So no worrying whether it will pinch your waist or ride up when you sit down! It’s just part of what makes these skirts so special to own!
In order to be entered in the giveaway, all you have to do is comment below and tell us where you would wear your coral bow skirt! (To Easter brunch? Graduation? A tea party with friends?)
Also, you can win additional entries by:
Liking Hannah Everly Designs on Facebook
Tweeting about the giveaway (be sure to use the handle @RachelCoker03 so I can see you tweeted!)
Pinning the top image!
So everyone can have up to four entries! Good luck to everyone! The contest will start now and run until this Friday, March 15th at 12 PM EST.
For those of you who just can’t wait and have to get your hands on one of these skirts, they are all available for purchase in Hannah’s etsy shop! And for today only, enjoy 10% off your order with the coupon code EVERLYSPRING10.
I feel like my blog has gotten boring lately. Boo! But some days I can’t think of anything interesting to write about. There just doesn’t seem to be too many interesting things going on to delight you all with. So, when brainstorming what to write about today, I had an aha! moment. Duh. I could write about myself! Then I groaned because that sounded so narcissistic and you guys hear about me all the time, but there has to be at least a few details you’ve never learned about me and my life! And since barely any of you actually know me in person, the least I can do is clue you in on a few of my more quirkier characteristics.
Ahem. Let’s make a list, shall we?
- I’m an obsessive list maker. Obvs. You already knew this though, so moving on!
- My best friend’s name is Tessa. She’s short and Asian and I’m rather tall and blindingly white, so externally we have just about nothing in common. But we enjoy being weird together. We take funny pictures. And give each other goofy Christmas presents. Like matching hats.
- I own my own photography business. Therefore I take lots of pictures. You can like my photography page here, thank you very much.
- When I was younger, my dad honestly had me fooled into believing he was batman. Like, honestly truly believing. And I thought that one day I would become Batwoman and combat evil at his side. Then I grew up and got a brain and all my childhood dreams and hopes were shattered. But I’m not bitter or anything, no…
- I passionately hate oranges. I do not like to eat anything orange flavored or with oranges in it. Yuck. While we’re on the topic, I hate fruit salad. Mingling fruits creep me out.
- Bright colors just do it for me every time. Like I seriously believe that every single hot pink, yellow, turquoise blue, or blaze orange item of clothing in every store has a secret voice that only I can hear whispering, “Buy me, Rachel. Please, please buy me.” Therefore I have too many clothes. And my closet looks like this:
- Ray Charles is my favorite singer at the moment. Too bad he’s dead, or I would love to hear him in concert.
- I love to dance the cha-cha.
- Modern art is one of my favorite things to study and learn about. Jackson Pollock is my favorite artist. And I love to drag my poor sister to art museums and take random pictures by massive works of art. People stare, but we really do not care at all.
- The only pets I’ve ever owned were fish. They all died. I think I’m an unintentional animal killer, but I’m really not sure…
- I make jokes that people don’t get a lot of the time. I have a reputation for people thinking I’m mean when I’m really trying to be funny. I have apologized for my humor numerous times and I think I will be doing that for the rest of my life.
- My sister and I are spies. But don’t tell anyone.
- At sleepovers, I am usually the first to fall asleep and the first to wake up.
- I like chocolate cake. It sometimes gives me headaches, but it’s worth it every time. Also, this is how big we cut cake slices in our house:
- I can mimic just about any accent, from a North Carolina drawl to a British socialite to a Scottish warrior (Braveheart anyone?)
- I can’t think of any non-awkward way of ending a list
So you guys remember when I posted those really cute pictures last week featuring my amazing friend Elaini from misselanious.com? Well, guess what? I have even more pictures to share with you all! Because not only did we decide to roam around the library wearing matching classy trench coats, but we also tiptoed around in tulle skirts and heels.
It continues to just completely blow my mind how two young women, who have only met once, can have such a beautiful relationship. The Lord really does bring people into our lives for a reason, and I know that is why He has given me Elaini’s friendship at this point in my life! It’s so nice to have a friend who can also be your sister in Christ and role model in just about every way. And I love how even though we live over two thousand miles apart, we can message each other randomly or Skype for hours and talk about nothing and everything all at once. We have no mutual friends, no history of “good old times” and no knowledge of when we’ll ever see each other in person again, but all that doesn’t matter. We can still be the dearest companions who genuinely love each other and pray for each other constantly. Isn’t it amazing that God could do that in our lives?
Anyway, I’m veering into gushy territory and I really just want to let you all look at these pictures. So enjoy! Be sure to check out Elaini’s blog and please, please, please consider giving a donation toward those adorable little kiddos in India. It would just make both of our days.
Check out Elaini’s blog for even more pictures!
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. Which is kind of strange because I feel like when all is going well in life, I tend to just skip on down my yellow brick road, totally and completely oblivious to anything anyone might say to me or about me. This is me a pretty good percentage of the time. Happy and oblivious, like a toddler who’s never considered the fact that Dora the Explorer’s mother lets her go tramping about alone in the woods with a singing backpack and monkey wearing boots.
And then every now and then I happen to have a day (or two) where something happens that really causes me to think. And I know it’s always a God-thing, because it’s always those days that cause me to re-evaluate just how much His presence means in my life. Lately this has been manifesting itself in my own self-image and perspective on life. Because sometimes, I am just not happy with the way God made me.
It’s a really weird thing to blog about, mostly because I don’t know any of you and you don’t really know me, so it’s not like we can have an actual balanced discussion on this topic. For all you know, I could be some deranged psycho who just happens to be good at balancing truths with snarky witticisms and writing sappy fairytales. But a lot of who I am can’t even be translated into a blog, or an interview, or a vlog video. Because I’m a seventeen-year-old girl and I have so many faults and imperfections and things that I hate about myself, both physically and mentally.
Anyway, I’m just like all other teenage girls and sometimes I have days where I struggle with image, jealousy, and self-pity, just like everyone else. And it’s always tough to have to sit myself down and truly understand the fact that I will always be aware of my own imperfections and struggles, and probably always be a bit envious of the gifts and successes of others. It’s something that comes up quite often as I examine my heart, and something that I’ve really been praying about lately.
And so, whenever I have those days where I feel second-best or dissatisfied with the way God made me, I just take it to the Lord in prayer. I pour out my heart to Him and pray for satisfaction in Him. And the more that I pray about it, the more at peace I feel in my own heart about God’s hand in my life.
Before the world even began, God smiled to Himself as He wove together the seams of my life. He knew how I would look, how I would grow and love Him, and the things that He would lead me to do during my time on earth. He made me exactly the way that I am, with all my imperfections and quirks, because He knew that it was through those faults and cracks that He would be most glorified.
The Lord doesn’t always glory in the mighty, in the brilliant, in the socially succesful, or in the gorgeous. The Lord works through the lives of everyday, ho-hum people who honestly love Him and want to serve Him with their lives. And when I waste precious moments of His time comparing myself to others or wondering why on earth He wouldn’t give me certain gifts of abilities, I am not only hurting myself but also the cause of my Creator. Because God isn’t glorified in my dissatisfaction and complaints. He’s not honored in my vanity, or my self-pity.
It takes a different type of perspective to honestly please Him with my life. It takes understanding that I have a purpose–a beauty in God’s eyes. That even on the days that I feel stupid and silly and dull, He is still working through me. Working through my imperfections to point others to Christ. It’s a wonderful, glorious truth that I feel I have fully realized over the past few days. A truth that warms my heart and fills me with nothing but joy and love for others. It erases bitterness, wipes out jealousy, and leaves no room for hurt feelings. God loves me, and that very fact makes my life worth something.
Sooooo, you may be wondering what I’ve been up to lately. Here’s the lowdown.
I bought a car.
Oooooh…. impressive, right??? Haha, hold your horses. It’s not a NEW car. In fact, it’s ten years old. But it ‘s a Honda and they run for like forever, right? (Here’s hoping)
Anyway, I drive my car in classy vintage dresses and store old LIFE magazines in the back seat, naturally. Because I am Rachel Coker, afterall. And I’m also a bit weird.
This photo is actually a part of a project I’ve been working on since the New Year. It’s called a “365 Project”, and those of you who have the good sense to have already liked my photography page on Facebook have been following along, right? Anyway, I basically post a photo everyday of me, my sisters, my friends, my family, or just random snippets of my life. The project is mostly un-book/blog related stuff, so you won’t find much of it here. I’m talking about me, my friends, and my real, normal life. Quite frankly, it’s a rather overwhelming project, but I already can’t wait until the year is over and I can look back over photographic glimpses of the past 365 days of my life. It’s going to be so. exciting.
Also, I’ve dipped my toes into the world of Twitter. Yep, that’s right, folks! I’m tweeting! It’s so breathtakingly exciting! (Haha, can you hear the sarcasm in my voice??) Actually, I fought the pressure to get a Twitter account for so long, but now that I have one I’m kind of loving it. It’s so easy to connect with my readers and get to know people! For those of you who have an account, feel free to follow me @RachelCoker3. I’m actually hosting a live Q&A chat Thursday afternoon at 2 PM EST, where I’ll be answering any questions you all might have about writing, publishing, or my new book Chasing Jupiter. It’ll be totally casual and fun, and a great chance for us all to interact and hang out together for about an hour. I really hope all of you join in on the conversation and keep me from feeling like I’m tweeting out to an empty cyberuniverse… *gulp*
I also ate a salad for lunch. For the past five days. Which means I’m slowly turning insane. Or healthy. You pick.
What have you been up to so far this year? Have any of you gotten your hands on Chasing Jupiter yet???
So, in case some of you haven’t heard yet, I’m graduating high school this spring. *Gasp!* I know, right? Where does the time go??? The last twelve years just flew by, I swear, and I went from thinking fifth graders were the biggest, coolest people in the world, to realizing college seniors are indeed the biggest and coolest people in the world. Or maybe grad students who drink their coffee black. Not really sure.
Anyway, I thought you all might enjoy seeing some of my senior pictures! I just got the cd of images last week, so I haven’t been holding back on you or anything. Look through them all and let me know which ones are your favorites! A girl needs help figuring out what pictures to put on her graduation announcements so that the whole world doesn’t think she looks like a fluffy-haired freak or something…
And no, I’m not talking about “when the world falls in love”. I’m talking about “when Rachel starts freaking out and losing sleep at night and tells all her friends to refrain from Googling her name for the next three months.” Yes, this is (da-da-dum)…. BOOK REVIEW SEASON!!!
I remember when Interrupted came out last spring, I told myself I would not read a single book review online or in a magazine. Ha! As if! I’m a girl and I’m nosy and I’m self-conscious, so obviously I ended up reading every review that was sent my way, both good and bad. And let me tell you something, I don’t remember the details of a single good review. Honestly. Out of the hundreds of reviews of Interrupted floating out there in cyberspace, I probably only read half a dozen that were truly terrible. And yet, those are the six that I remember most vividly and could probably quote in my sleep. Every derogatory comment or snarky criticism–they’re stuck in my brain forever!
And now, here we go all over again! It’s Christmastime, but it’s also Book Review Season, and so my brain is probably going to be on overload for the next month or so. My publicist/family members/friends will be sending me just about every review on Chasing Jupiter that possibly exists, and I’ll probably end up reading them all. Because that’s the weak person that I am! And while I’m sure I’ll read all the sweet reviews and be very blessed by them, I also know that I’ll be a little bit scarred by the negative ones as well.
But you know what? That’s going to be a great thing for me. I can’t live in this bubble where everything I produce is hilarious and witty and insightful and poetic. Sometimes people are going to disagree with me and that’s okay! My prayer throughout this whole process is that every negative review or criticism I receive in the next month and a half will do nothing but strengthen me in the Lord and help grow me into a better person.
At the end of the year, it’s all going to be okay. I know that I’ll get through reading every great and not-so-great review and make it out just fine. I’m looking forward to the journey, and seeing where God leads me throughout it!
Aaaaaannnnndddd…. You can now pre-order your own copy of Chasing Jupiter. So get it now! And then eagerly anticipate every second in between now and the moment you hold it in your hands!