August 27, 2013

5 Things You Don't Have To Worry About

Hello everybody, how was your Monday? Sadly, today's post will have to be short. I'm in the middle of campaigning to be the senator of the inter-residence hall student government here in university and also have a long essay to write for my theology class. I didn't think that I would be this busy already! 

Anyhow, I challenge you to look up 5 quick verses. If you don't have a Bible on hand, Bible Gateway is a fantastic resource.

If you're feeling any sort of anxiety, I hope this helps comfort you, and even if you're not, I encourage you to find these verses and bookmark them because nobody knows what could happen in the future. 

Found from Facebook. I follow way too many Christian pages, hehe.
These verses really spoke to me especially in my given context, having just moved out of home. Did one of them stand out to you? Let me know in the comments!

Take care,
-Riley XO

August 23, 2013

Let Your Smile Change The World

Good morning! Yesterday morning I was feeling kind of down and homesick but was reminded of the power of a smile. So I'm challenging you to just smile today and bring some happiness to yourself and to others in the easiest way possible. Hope this little quote gives you some inspiration:

Found on Facebook
Have a wonderful weekend!

Take care,
-Riley XO

August 20, 2013

5 Ingredients of Inner Beauty

Happy Tuesday! I stayed up the other night with some of my friends to watch the meteor shower last week. Did any of you make wishes on some "shooting stars"? Let me know in the comments!

I've been thinking about inner beauty quite a lot ever since I read Bailey's comment in a previous post. The manner in which she phrased it was so encouraging and it got me all excited about writing this post, but then I had to stop myself. Because, well, what in the world is inner beauty? It seems like beauty (inner or outer) is something that we can recognize but cannot ever fully define properly.

I believe that inner beauty is essentially the health of your soul. And like physical health, there are many variables which affect the health of your spirit. Having a positive attitude despite adversity is a discipline. Putting others before yourself takes exercise. And training yourself to be confident (note: confidence and arrogance are different) is a draining process because you need to find what you are confident about. Then there are all of the factors that you are putting inside yourself, your diet. How do the books you read or the movies you watch impact your perspective on life? Do your friends and family give you unconditional love and support? Do you go to church?

There are so many components to inner beauty, and they are intertwined and complex--you don't even have total control over some of them!--so for today I decided to talk about a couple that really stand out to me. Many of the other "ingredients" will probably surface later on in future posts, so five of them is sufficient for now. This post will be guided by two quote-pictures (does anyone have a better name for these?) that I found on Facebook a while ago and have been saving for a while.

So with all of that said, let's get started!

#1: Love
There are many types of love. Someone could probably start a whole new blog discussing even just a couple forms of love. (I mean, I suppose there are already thousands of blogs out there about romantic love, so I wasn't even exaggerating on that statement.) I'm going to try to keep it as brief as I can on this point since there are four other ingredients to discuss, but the most beautiful people I know have a lot of love in their hearts. Love for what they do, love for the people around them, love for themselves, love for God. Mother Teresa's famous quotation is "Do small things with great love." And guys, when you have love in your heart, everything in this world become so much more powerful, so much more meaningful.

Genuine, raw love is the greatest blessing that mankind has. It seems rare because it is so easy to complicate. What inspired me to start fostering love in my heart is Mother Teresa's quotation above. To do this, I started developing genuine interest for other people. When I meet someone new, one of the first questions I ask is: "What is your passion?" And swiftly following up: "Why do you do it?"

Developing love also involves tearing down walls and misconceptions. Before, it was difficult for me to feel attached to other people because I'd been betrayed by those who I'd cared about. Walls were naturally built, as a way to protect the heart. And the tragedy is that although these walls screen out pain, they also screen out love. Each person may have their own reason to have built a defense mechanism, but don't let the pain caused by a few lead you to neglect the thousands of people whom you have the opportunity to help during your lifetime. And if you are dealing with pain or when you deal with pain in the future, it is crucial to remember that it is ultimately your own choice to let it crush you or fight it--ultimately becoming a more mature, able person in the end. 
"The heart is a muscle. When it is broken, it grows back stronger." (Unknown) 

Society also plays a role in our struggle to love. Society teaches the concept of a social ladder: one that successful people are to climb. There is this hierarchy, where those on top generally look down on those at the bottom. Talented people are applauded, while those with modest or "average" abilities receive no recognition. But instead of considering those around you in a vertical manner, it is better instead to think of all people--big or small, black or white, religious or not, male or female, rich or poor--on a horizontal spectrum. While it may be natural to compare this trait with that one,  it is very easy to start "stacking" traits up. So upon meeting another person, it has helped me a lot to recognize the fact that s/he has his/her own story, strengths, weaknesses, and tribulations. Each person does--even you. And I am trying think more to myself, "What can I do to make their day better?" and "What can I learn from their story?"

This sort of mindset is one to take on for a loving spirit.

#2: Honesty
To me, it seems that usually people preach about being honest when it comes to matters dealing with "white lies." Lying vs. telling the truth is definitely a topic of deep philosophical meaning, so that will have to be reserved for a future post.

Anyway, today for this ingredient, I wanted to focus it more on the terms of self-reflection. Some unhappy people I know are dishonest with themselves on opposite extremes. Do you know anybody who tends to put him or herself down? It's an unrealistic way to look at oneself detrimentally because each person has both positive and negative qualities. Confidence is an important feature of inner beauty, so it is important to recognize your good traits, the ones that make you unique and fun to be around. Maybe you're a good listener, or are always there to lend a hand, or have a nice smile.

There is a fine line between confidence, or arrogance, though. So while being aware of the positive qualities is essential, it is also crucial to maintain a sense of humility--arrogance is a negative trait.

#3: Truth
Here is a value that is distinct from honesty. Honesty is mostly about being frank with yourself and others--asking questions like "Did I mess up?" "What did I do well today?" and "What can I do better tomorrow?"

Truth is slightly different because it's less reflective and more active. Truth is something we seek. It's obtainable by filling up your mind, by drinking in knowledge and wisdom. Read books, question others' opinions, learn from what others have learned. Find truth.

#4: Respect
Does it seem to anyone like our generation is losing respect as a whole? We don't seem to respect our parents in the same way they respected theirs; gossip destroys friendships; a sense of unsettling pessimism seems to drive the conscience of many. Drug abuse is a form of disrespect to our own bodies, and it's becoming a major problem.

Respect yourself, respect others, and respect the environment.

Treat others as you would have them treat you. So give them the benefit of the doubt, share with them, help them if they seem to be going through a rough time--even if you don't think they deserve it--because who knows? Maybe you'll be the person in need of some care and respect in the future.

#5: God
Having a relationship with God is the most important ingredient of inner beauty because it ultimately embodies all of the other ingredients. Praying to him gives you a sense of peace because you know he'll take care of your problems. He has set a pure example for loving those around us and instills a spirit of sincere compassion. Find him, and you will find truth, unconditional love, self-sacrifice, and a fulfilling lifestyle.
And there are five ingredients of inner beauty. I hope you have a wonderful week and I will blog again soon!
I moved here to college safely, and I just wanted to thank all of my friends and family of supporting me through this process, especially my parents. I am also so happy that you also had a chance to read a little bit about my experiences through the series Get Ready For College With Me. Please subscribe and leave many comments--I love hearing from you guys and am willing to discuss just about anything!
Take care,
-Riley XO

August 13, 2013

Get Ready For College With Me: The Days of My Summer

Hello there lovelies! Summer has absolutely flown by, and this is one of the last times I'll be blogging from my room here in Colorado. Next week, I'll be in a different state for school surrounded by new people (hopefully making friends out of some of them). So by the looks of things, I'll finally be drawing the series Get Ready For College With Me to a close. But before I get on with the body of the post, I just wanted to thank you for your readership and comments--this blog would be nothing without you, and I am pleased to see how much it has already grown and look forward to see how much it will continue to grow. I also really hope that this series has given some of you a better idea of applying to college and helps you feel more prepared for everything you need to accomplish the rest of your high school career.

I wish I had more to blog about regarding what I've been doing as far as getting ready for the move goes, but to be honest I haven't really started packing yet. I have organized the essentials of course--the mound of clothes in my closet is fairly intimidating, though.

Girls night out with my best friends was one of the many
highlights of my summer. We went to a fondue restaurant and
the food was so yummy! What's one of your highlights?
Let me know in the comments below!
However, this summer has been one of the best I've had. I've experienced an incredible amount of growth and have been blessed with opportunities to write, work, and of course spend time with my dearest friends.

I definitely kept myself busy this season, by keeping active while training for my black belt test, by connecting with my friends, by sharing snippets of inspiration with you on this blog, and by working (minimum wage isn't much, but it'll make a small difference in fighting off that student debt). I also went through a massive beauty obsession, experimenting with makeup and learning how to trim my own hair (tips to come in a future blog post!). Anyone who thinks that teenagers just sit around all summer long is kidding him or herself.

Here is an example of a typical 2013 summer day in the life of Riley:
7:00 AM - wake up, drink a glass of water
7:30-8:30 - work out (either elliptical training or a series of blogilates videos)
8:30-9:00 - breakfast
9:00-10:30 - blog ^_^
11:00-5:00 - work
5:30-6:00 - practice violin
6:30-8:00 - tae kwon do class
8:00-9:00 - dinner and family time
9:00-11:00 or 12:00 - social networking or texting friends or YouTube surfing

The above is definitely one of my productive days. Having work for 30-36 hours a week was actually beneficial for me because it added more structure to my schedule. I'm usually pretty bad about time management, and when there is too much time available a lot of it tends to end up reading other people's blogs or on YouTube--I actually become less motivated to work out or be productive on my days off. So on the days that I didn't have work, I'd usually invite some friends over to hang out, and being with them was always refreshing and a lot of fun.

It wouldn't be appropriate to go into detail, but the personal things I experienced this summer also helped me gain a sense of peace. Like I'm ready to go into college; I'm also so blessed because I've both given and gotten the most from my current relationships. I thank God every time I pray for the friends He has placed into my life, because I have a strong belief that we will be friends for life.

I can't find the words, you guys. There is just so much peace in my heart right now and I couldn't have asked for a better way to end this part of my life and start a new chapter. Does anyone else feel the same way?

Well, this is the last post in the series Get Ready For College With Me. I'll be going back to the usual content now, which consists of snippets of inspiration from yours truly. Please follow me on Bloglovin' or Twitter if you haven't already, and if you have requests for posts let me know in the comments! 

I hope your summer has been full of great memories, whether they be good or bad, because they will ultimately shape you into the great person you are growing to be. 

Take care,
-Riley XO

P.S. I realize that I've talked quite a bit about myself in this post and the last one--I've just been so excited about everything that's been happening to me and wanted to share this sense of enthusiasm with you. I am currently working on a post that only scratches the surface of inner beauty; it's quite a project, but my goal is to have it up for you to read and enjoy within this week. In the meantime, smile on :)

Backyard X-scapes

August 6, 2013

My Black Belt Test

Hello everybody! Today I wanted to share what is potentially the biggest day of my summer with you. I actually tested for my black belt last Saturday. It was a very emotional time for me because I didn't really realize how quickly this summer has flown until Friday afternoon. All the way through the season of working, spending time with friends, and blogging--the black belt test just seemed to be something so far away.

(I have a couple of pictures here on the blog. Sorry about the poor quality--they were taken on my sister's phone and I am too lazy to edit them. The sun coming in through the windows makes the lighting look really funky, but it doesn't bother me enough to fix it.)

Tae kwon do has been a major part of my life for about two-and-a-half years now. It's my primary form of exercise, and I love it because I've made such wonderful friends from the school. Plus, it provides an outlet for stress relief when I needed a break from school. Each school has its own methods and philosophies, but I recommend practicing martial arts to pretty much every teenager I meet. Ever since I started, my sense of self-confidence has really grown stronger, and going to practice tae kwon do has usually been the best part of each day, both during school and in the summer.

The test started with an hour-long meditation. Then, we proceeded to execute all the forms, basic motions, sparring techniques, nun-chuck routines, kicks, board breaking, and exercises. The entire test was approximately four hours long, so I had a bottle of Gatorade in handy since I have low blood sugar and pressure.

Even though I'm still sore while writing this, the whole thing seems surreal, a blur. My black belt is sitting on my counter and it definitely has my Korean name on it, but it's hard to grasp the fact that I earned it. I don't know--I guess I never really saw myself coming this far.

Anyway, I just wanted to give a quick shout-out to everyone who's supported me through this whole process. I wouldn't have gotten anywhere without my family and friends. Actually, if it weren't for them I'd probably have spent this whole summer wasting away at work in that fast food restaurant. I'm not going to mention any specific people because if they're reading this, they know who they are.

I also want to thank my friends (who sat through the entire four hours!) for not giving me a hard time about me crying at the end of the test. I was physically exhausted and then got really emotional when Master Park asked me to give a speech to my parents since the time left with them is becoming shorter and shorter. I was again reminded how blessed I am to have my parents in my life--I can never fully repay them for all they have done for me.

Finally, I thank you for reading through this entire post! It isn't even close to describing all of the emotions I experienced while receiving my black belt, and it doesn't include all of the details of the test, but this post is just one way for you to get to know me better. I'm not sure if I've mentioned tae kwon do on this blog before or not, but it occupies a precious place in my heart.

That's what I've been up to lately--what have you been doing all summer? Did you spend a lot of time with your friends? Did you travel? Try anything new? What's your best memory? Please share in the comments below!

Coming up on this blog, I'm going to be wrapping up the series Get Ready For College With Me and take a whack at writing a beauty post. My take on beauty focuses a lot more on inner beauty and being healthy, but I do have a couple of tips that are helpful for fellow students out there who don't have a lot of time to devote to pampering their skin and/or hair but still care about such things.

If there's anything else you'd like me to blog about, please feel free to leave a comment below or email me at Otherwise, I have a lot of inspirational quotes, thoughts, and pictures in store for you all as well :)

Take care,
-Riley XO
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