May 30, 2014

Sometimes You Win Sometimes You Learn (II)

TGIF! How are you? I'm doing well and have been keeping busy as always. A friend's graduation was on Monday and I had a lovely time visiting her. What was one of the highlights of your week? Let me know in the comments!

I really enjoyed last week's reading from the book Sometimes You Win Sometimes You Learn by John C. Maxwell. It was a great way to start the series! (To read my reflection and some others' comments, please follow this link.) Today, we'll be reflecting on Chapters 3 and 4, which I think go hand-in-hand perfectly because they are about reality and responsibility.
Quote of the week: "It's easier to go from failure to success than it is from excuses to success" (John C. Maxwell).

The whole discussion on humility and the spirit of learning last week helped set a solid base for this week's focus on "Reality: The Foundation of Learning" and "Responsibility: The First Step of Learning." Humility is absolutely necessary in order to see the reality of the situation and thereafter shoulder responsibility for the pain and hurt. We already established that pride is ultimately a blinding force that inhibits us from seeing what we did wrong. Instead, prideful people tend to live in a state of denial and blame others for their misery.

It's important, then, to see the problem, think about it as objectively as possible, and then accept that you were responsible for a measure of the consequences.
How can we see situations objectively?

Maxwell says that people who look at the world realistically know these things:
  1. Life is difficult for everyone.
  2. Life is more difficult for some than for others.
Having a faith that guides me helps me accept this. Why do we encounter pain, loss, and hardship? Because we live in an imperfect world. But just because bad things happen, it doesn't mean that the reality is that we should wallow in self-pity or give up. I've posted before that "The world is full of nice people. If you can't find one, be one." If you look at things realistically, you'll see that there are some things you cannot control. But what you can control is what truly matters. You can decide how to react, what to take away from the bad, and you can decide to stand up for what is right and good.

Responsibility for a situation can be difficult to take because often there are extrinsic and intrinsic factors that often influence it. Psychologists define "locus of control" as how people attribute the causes of the things that happen to them. People with an external locus of control believe that their situations are caused mostly by their surroundings. Those with an internal locus of control, on the other hand, believe that their situations are largely caused due to their own choices and actions. "Which group is more successful? The group that takes personal responsibility. Which people are more content? The ones who take personal responsibility. Which people learn from their mistakes and keep growing and improving? The people who take responsibility" (62-63).

I thought that his list on page 63 was very powerful when he argues that having an external locus of control essentially gives away the choice to control our lives:

Is it true that hating, loving, ignoring, hearing, despairing, hoping--all of these are up to us? What truly matters--our character--is completely our choice. 

As we begin to realize this, we begin to:
  1. Take our first step in learning.
  2. See things in their proper perspective.
  3. Stop repeating our failures.
  4. Grow stronger.
  5. Back up our words with our behavior.
So, what are some steps we can start taking to look at our problems realistically and take the fair amount of responsibility?

Last week, we looked at the Examen to help us reflect and pray for a humble, learning spirit. 

Today, I have a new set of questions that we can ask in the face of some bad situations to help us see what we need to and learn:
  • [In the case of an argument] Why did they do what they did? What would I have done if I were in their shoes? Is there a better way I could have approached the situation?
  • [In the case of a bad habit] Are my priorities straight, and what is the evidence for this? What do I dedicate my time to, and what is taking up all of my time? Am I leading a healthy, balanced life? Do I have enough time to spend with friends and family?
  • [In the case of a death] It is appropriate to mourn, and missing them is inevitable. But, if they were watching me from up above, how would they want to see me? Would they want to see me smile and find peace?
  • [In the case of failure] What were my mistakes? What could I have done better? Why did I want this in the first place? Why should I try again? How should I change my strategy this time?
So this concludes all I have to say about Maxwell's third and fourth chapters. What did you think? Let me know in the comments below! Also, please subscribe to Smiles No Matter for future updates. Next week, we'll be studying the fifth and sixth chapters next Friday. Hope to see you then! 

Smile on,
-Riley XO

May 27, 2014

The 5 Love Languages

Happy Tuesday! How are you? I hope everything is going well for you and that each day has been coming as a blessing. Today I feel like talking about how people express love, since last week we explored a little bit of the importance of doing love. I actually learned about the "Five Love Languages" about six months ago doing a workshop focused on leadership from the Jesuits' perspective. The workshop looked at leadership as a quality that could be developed essentially through finding your strengths and talents, and then harnessing them to bring them out to help others.

So, we spent about three hours talking about these Love Languages.
As you could probably assume, there are many examples of people showing love, and they are all different. But some smart people got together and put these ways of showing love into five categories: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch. In general, people feel a stronger affinity towards one or two of these. And (hopefully I phrase this clearly) sometimes, a person may prefer to receive love in one language but tend to also give love in another. 

Anyhow, I thought it would be fun for us to figure out what our main love languages are, so here is a link to a quiz! (Note: I am linking to the "singles" version so that it would tell us about how we love universally, but there is also a "relationship version.")
Here is my ranking from my top love language down to the bottom one:
  1. Quality Time
  2. Acts of Service
  3. Physical Touch
  4. Words of Affirmation and Receiving Gifts
What were your results? Did you expect them to turn our like that? Why? Please share in the comments below!

The workshop I took emphasized the uniqueness of each language, and that people working to foster leadership in themselves and others learn about the many ways to express love, eventually growing to speak all of the languages fluently.

Kinda, cool, huh?

Well, that's pretty much all I have for now! A quick but fun post! Hope you have a great day, and experience the wonderful joy that comes from being loved.

Smile on,
-Riley XO

May 24, 2014

Sometimes You Win Sometimes You Learn (I)

Hello there everyone! I am sorry for missing Friday contrary to my original plans. There were some personal things I had to deal with and I was quite busy working too! But here we are on a lovely Saturday night to discuss this week's reading: Chapters 1 and 2 from Maxwell's Sometimes You Win Sometimes You Learn.
Quote of the week: "Humility does not mean you think less of yourself. It means you think of yourself less" (Ken Blanchard). 

Dealing with loss and failure are really our only opportunities to develop character--to foster greatness. It is difficult to appreciate what you have in life if you've never had anything taken away from you before, and Maxwell also makes an excellent point that winning is an easy cycle: you set your goal, you work hard, you achieve your goal, repeat. This cycle is a great one to be caught up in if you're in it, but it's predictable. Losing, on the other hand, is unpredictable, is often unwarranted, and it comes in many different forms that must be dealt in a various amount of different ways. Our most powerful and important lessons from life are learned from our own suffering.

Actually, Friedrich Nietzsche said, "To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering." Nietzsche is a fascinating philosopher with many radical beliefs, but one of his major points is that greatness is achieved through suffering. Characters like Abraham Lincoln, Ludwig van Beethoven, Vincent van Gogh, and many more arrived to their places as historical and artistic heroes primarily because they suffered and bore mountains of pain and agony. So, Nietzsche argues that in order to become the "uberman," one must seek to find strife.

Maxwell, however, emphasizes not the quantity of our pain or losses, but the quality in which we deal with them.

This week, we focus on humility, the spirit of learning.

He outlines four reasons concerning why humility fosters the right attitude for learning from our losses in pages 25-33:

  1. Humility allows us to possess a true perspective of ourselves and life.
  2. Humility enables us to learn and grow in the face of losses.
  3. Humility allows us to let go of perfection and keep trying.
  4. Humility allows us to make the most of our mistakes.

I think that the other fellow Type-A personalities out there will wrestle with some of these ideas just as I did while reflecting on the chapter. Type-A people tend to be high-achievers, and high-achievers tend to take pride in all they've accomplished. However, pride can be damaging because it often blinds us to our own flaws--which you can see problem considering that our flaws are often the cause of the mistakes we make in life.

Humility keeps a person calm in the face of a setback, and also in the face of victory as well. See, humility is so important because it keeps in mind that we are not perfect. Imperfection must be accepted as a part of us all, and there is always room for some sort of improvement.

Maxwell uses the case study of Samuel F. B. Morse to draw an example of where humility in the face of loss led to learning, and thus achievement.

This was a young man who attended Yale University and excelled in a variety of challenging classes. His dream was to be an artist, and when his parents allowed him to go pursue painting, and he traveled all over the place when people commissioned him to paint portraits. He was in Concord when he fell in love. He wrote to his parents:

"She is very beautiful, and yet no coquetry, she is modest quite to diffidence and yet frank and open hearted...Suffice it to say we are engaged...never was a human being so blest as I am, and yet what an ungrateful wretch have I been; pray for me that I may have a grateful heart for I deserve nothing but adversity, and yet have the most unbounded prosperity."

They were married, and Morse found great success in his painting career. He also used some of his knowledge to help develop a water pump for fire engines and a marble-cutting machine to carve sculptures.

Morse was in New York working on a painting in 1825 when he received word that his wife was ill. Although he immediately rushed home, by the time he had arrived, she had already died and he discovered that he had also missed her funeral. Can you imagine the distress and grief he must have suffered?

His loss led him to search for ways to improve the painstakingly slow communication that existed during that time. Seven years later, he developed Morse Code, which revolutionized communication.

Nonetheless, he still maintained the spirit of humility, and he said, "I have made a valuable application of electricity not because I was superior to other men but solely because God, who meant it for mankind, must reveal it to someone and he was pleased to reveal it to me."

Maxwell comments, "With that attitude, no wonder he was able to bounce back from his losses, learn, and grow. He possessed the spirit of learning. And we would do well to obtain it too" (35).

So you can see, humility in the face of adversary can lead to great achievement!

However, I wanted to mention that there is a fine line between self-confidence and arrogance. Maxwell touches on the difference in the second chapter, but I wanted to explore a bit more on my own how we can obtain a spirit in which humility and self-confidence can coexist in harmony.

How do we foster a humble soul?

Well, I approach this question in the same way that I would approach many other "How..." and "Why..." questions: through prayer and meditation.

Let's start to develop some humility and still maintain a sense of self-confidence today by just taking 5-10 minutes answering these questions every day this next week:

  • In general, how was my day today (or yesterday)?
  • What am I grateful for?
  • What have I done wrong? How could I have done better?
  • What am I going to do tomorrow (or today) to help right a wrong, or to make something better?
After answering these questions, let's ask God to help in finding the strength to act better in the future. 

There's no quickfire way to develop humility, but let's make it a goal this next week to follow this meditation and see if we notice any changes in our hearts and attitudes. 

(Note: These questions are taken from a variation of the Jesuit Examen, which is a guide for prayer/meditation that has several variations. Please see this post to read my response to practicing the Examen for a week. For other variations of the Examen and to learn more, click here.)

So this concludes all I have to say about Maxwell's first and second chapters. What did you think? Let me know in the comments below! Also, please subscribe to Smiles No Matter for future updates. Next week, we'll be studying the third and fourth chapters on Friday. Hope to see you then! 

Smile on,
-Riley XO

May 20, 2014

Sign of Beauty?

Have you guys ever seen Life is Beautiful? I think that it's one of those classic films that everyone should eventually see since it makes such a powerful statement on happiness, self-sacrifice, and love. (I rarely recommend movies on this blog, so if you're reading this and haven't seen the film yet...there is my nomination for the next movie night!)

Anyhow, I'm thinking about Life is Beautiful this morning because I came across a quotation that I wanted to share with you guys:

I admire the few gifted people who manage to find the best in those around them, and often do my best to be like that. But, I would like to explore this thought a little further.

For instance, the protagonist of the film Life is Beautiful undoubtedly portrays remarkable inner beauty and a noble sense of character, but he isn't actively seeing beauty in others. He is only close to his small inner circle of friends and family. The sign of a beautiful person must then be broader.

People are beautiful if they have a genuine love for others in their hearts. 

Love is a complex thing. (Understatement of the century, right?) I mean, have you ever thought of love as an action? This is one idea that's been around philosophy for a while. Let me illustrate:

Let's say that Person W loves Person X. Every time W sees X, his/her heart starts swelling up with love, and s/he has this wonderful feeling in his/her heart. However, W constantly treats X with a tone of condescension, constantly ignores X's phone calls, and while they're together, W is often dismissive and in general fails to go out of his/her way to do nice things for X. Does W really love X then? Can W be said to be beautiful in her/his "love" for X?

Or, more plainly, if you love somebody but don't really do anything so that the other party knows that you love him/her, do you really love them significantly? 

I've mentioned agape in one of my posts before, but the most basic definition of the term is "pure self gift." One way I think of it is sort of a selfless version of love, one that puts all mankind before the self, or individual. 

So, yes. In order to show love to a person, there is a necessity to put some sort of value into her/him--to see his/her beauty. But, the beautiful person will take it further. The beautiful person not only feels love--the beautiful person does love.

Smile on,
-Riley XO

May 16, 2014

Sometimes You Win Sometimes You Learn (Intro)

Happy Friday! So upon starting summer vacation I've found myself with a lot of free time. It's kind of rough for somebody like me since I like keeping busy and go absolutely crazy when I feel like I haven't done anything productive in a day. To help alleviate my anxiety, I'm planning to use all this extra time to read and write. But, what fun is doing all of this on your own? Today I'd like to introduce you guys to Smiles No Matter's first "book journey."

It's been a dream of mine for quite a while now to do some sort of book club on the blog, and I'm ecstatic to be able to do one this summer! The book I would like to delve into, Sometimes You Win Sometimes You Learn by John C. Maxwellis about things that I think would be relevant to my own life and the blog's mission because it's all about dealing with loss and failure--and growing from the tumultuous experiences!

Hopefully this will be a sort of spiritual journey that we will be able to share together. The book is a little more than 200 pages and is 13 chapters long. For this book journey, I will be writing my takeaways and reactions to two chapters on every Friday. Therefore, I'll be writing my commentaries on the first and second chapters next week. If you would like to join me on this book journey, please feel free to do so!

There are many ways to reflect on what you read, but for this particular study I would like to focus on the following questions:

  • What is my initial feeling upon reading these chapters?
  • Do I agree with Maxwell's primary ideas? Why or why not?
  • How does this apply to my approach to my own problems?
  • How does this apply to my approach to helping others with their problems?
I am truly hoping that there will be a good takeaway from this journey and that we can share it together! Please subscribe (check out the right hand sidebar!) to keep up with my commentaries on Maxwell's book and never miss an update. Look forward to seeing you again on next week!

Smile on,
-Riley XO 

May 14, 2014

Liebster Blog Award

Herro! I just wanted to use this lovely Wednesday afternoon to recognize that Tara Therese nominated me for the Liebster Blog Award. (She nominated me a while ago--but I got all caught up with finals and life and am just now finding time to play catch-up!) I thought that it would be quite fun to take a bit of time to thank her and all of you guys for supporting me and reading my blog, which has been up for nearly a year now! I am so blessed to know that you are enjoying what I put out for you and always love seeing your kind comments and appreciate your feedback!

This is actually the second time I've been nominated for the Liebster Award.
See my first award by following this link.
Here are eleven facts about myself that you may or may not have known:
  • Lately I have been obsessed with listening to music from Wicked.
  • I've also been going through a Studio Ghibli phase. I continuously nominate Studio Ghibli films on movie nights with my friends. If my friends don't feel like watching anime, I have absolutely no shame watching My Neighbor Totoro or Kiki's Delivery Service on my own.
  • I have known my best friends for about 14 years and I pray for them every day.
  • My favorite color is green because it reminds me of grass and trees, which remind me of how special life is.
  • I used to be a really bratty kid. Just ask my poor sister. I don't deserve to have such a patient and loving sister as her.
  • The book Eragon turned writing into a passion. Eragon introduced me to a world of fantasy that I could make my own. The first full-on novel I wrote was a fantasy book, but then I decided to stop writing books after I'd started a blog and needed to choose one when my time became limited. (Writing to you guys became my new dream and passion!)
  • I am scared of charging my phone overnight because I'm worried that it would break. When I was a kid, I had this digital camera that I somehow broke twice by overcharging the battery. Did you know you can overcharge batteries? Well, I did research on it and Apple and other smartphone producers have developed special technologies to prevent overcharging batteries and to protect the batteries in case if you use your phone while it's charging. But nonetheless, I always wait until my phone is at 1% battery before plugging it in sometime during the afternoon. And I wait for it to be charged completely back to 100% before unplugging it, usually refraining from using it while it's charging. It's a silly habit really, but I'm planning to have this phone for a while and want to do all I can to preserve it.
  • One of the best feelings in the world is washing my hair and showering after a hard workout. Simple pleasures make my day.
  • For those of you who sent me snapchats of "dying eggs" on Easter, you managed to confuse me a lot because those eggs were never really alive in the first place (unless if you were dyeing balut eggs).

    How did you decorate your Easter eggs last Sunday? Let me know in the comments!

  • I raised a tiny chick named George for two weeks. I named her George, and I remember worrying about her as if she were a human baby. Anyhow, George was definitely one of the best parts of my high school experience and she went on to become a show hen with 4-H kids. 
  • I grew up a Christian but never truly felt an affinity with the faith until my first semester of college, where my professor had me read books that transformed my understanding of theology (just a little foreshadowing for a future series...)
And here are my answers to Tara's lovely questions:
  1. Do you like to take distorted pictures of yourself? Yes! Snapchat is a ton of fun. But I would much rather take pictures of clouds and my puppy. 
  2. How would you describe yourself? I'm a girl who's learning to love and has a passion for inspiring and being inspired. 
  3. What’s your best joke? I went to a zoo and there was only a dog. It was a shih tzu.
  4. If you had to change your name, what name would you pick? Probably Mika.
  5. Do you collect clothes tags? No, I didn't even know that was a thing.
  6. If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be? My choices aren't that exciting considering how many great foods are out there in the world, but I'd like to have either salads or smoothies. They have some variety and can still be quite tasty. And they're good for you!
  7. Choose one: Famous, rich, or attractive. I think I would be able to do more with fame. I've always wanted to be a famous writer, and fame would also open up several doors for me to follow dreams and meet all sorts of people.
  8. Do you have a favorite letter? L. (Please tell me you recognize the reference!)
  9. Chocolate or peanut butter? CHOCOLATE!!!!
  10. Would you be chosen to act as Snow White or the wicked step mother? I think I'm pretty biased when it comes for answering for myself. But I would like to believe that I'd be chosen to act as Snow White.
  11. Which is your favorite hair color: pink, blue, or green? I think that it would be quite entertaining if I had green hair, grew it out really long, and camouflaged in grass. 
Now for my nominations for the Liebster Award...
  • Envy's blog Picking up the Pieces. This blog has been around for a couple of years now, and I have been enjoying some of the latest posts, which have included commentaries from pop culture and experiences Envy has had. 
  • Antie's blog Gallimfry. Although this blog is quite new I love the courage that its creator had to design a lovely site and write long, solid-quality posts in a second language. This blog is what I would consider to be a "creative blog," with samples of creative writing, drawings, and discussions on books (and probably more to come!). 
  • Nymisha's blog. Nymisha has a really nice style of writing that I just take pleasure in reading. And her blog looks absolutely gorgeous! 
I also wanted to give a special recognition to one of my friends from university who just started blogging, and his blog is called Killing Time With Kumar. He's pretty new to the whole blogging thing, so if you have any time to give him some encouragement or tips, we'd really appreciate it!

You guys don't know how important your thoughts and comments are, and I would love for you to answer the questions I write and accept the Liebster Award! (Remember to leave a link to your acceptance post in the comments below and put a link to this post so that I can read all of your responses!)

These are my questions:
  1. What is your favorite song and why?
  2. How do you show love to the people you care about?
  3. Is there something in your life that can make you smile no matter what? If and what is it?
  4. Name an accomplishment that you're proud of.
  5. What is your favorite article of clothing?
  6. Do you think graffiti is vandalism or art?
  7. What is your favorite genre of music?
  8. Describe the best dream you've ever had!
  9. What's one thing do you do for self-care? (In other words, what is one way you recharge?)
  10. You just won a free vacation to anywhere in the world! Where are you headed?
  11. Why do you blog?
So that's a wrap! Thank you for reading and never stop smiling on.
-Riley XO

May 13, 2014

Tab for a Cause

Good evening, world! How was your day today? Did you see my reflection on this past school year? What'd you think of it?

Well, I realize that I don't promote a lot of things on this blog, but I discovered something new that I wanted to share with you, called Tab for a Cause. I'm all for appreciating all the little things and doing small acts of kindness. If you save enough pennies, it can amount to a lot in the end, right?

Well, this "app" is one way to start accumulating pennies. Basically, every time you open up a new tab, there are some ads for non-profit organizations and charities that come on display--the money goes to the causes that these organizations and charities stand for.

This is an example of what the tabs look like from my desktop:

Click on the image for a better view. Sorry it's so tiny!
I've been using Tab for a Cause for about a month now and I can honestly say that it hasn't inconvenienced me in any way--the ads are actually pretty nice to look at. (It is run by Google Chrome, so it is trustworthy.) And since it's for helping our world in a huge variety of ways, why not?

If you're interested in Tab for a Cause, please follow this link to be directed to their website and decide if you would like to start making a difference at absolutely no cost! (Furthermore, if you have any suggestions for partners for this website, there is a way to contact them on their website.)

As long as we each do our bit, it will amount to a lot!

Smile on,
-Riley XO

A Tribute to Freshman Year

Hello there, everybody. A lot of you probably know that I started a series called Health in College, but then I realized that I had bad timing with it when I had my second-to-last final. So I don't know how much you were looking forward to the next parts of the series, but those will be posted in August! bad...
Anyway, it's been a while since I just talked about myself and what I've been up to--it has already been half a month since I last wrote to you!--so I figured that now is the time to do it. My year was so full of adventure and unexpected events that I'd like to reflect on. I'm planning to start some sort of spiritual study (I shall announce a book of choice soon!) that'll last over the summer, so if you don't care much about my life and would much rather read something along those lines then please tune in next week or check out the archives!

My first semester was an absolute blessing. I attended a Jesuit school in the Mid-West and it fit me like a glove. I was part of a service and justice community; we had discussions about world issues every week, and I also volunteered at a center for refugees three hours a week as well. I met hundreds of wonderful individuals, some of which became my closest friends, and learned new things about the world and myself every day. I remember waking up in the mornings to thank God for putting me in a place where I felt so happy, at peace. [Depicted on below on the left is me adding my thumb-print and signature to the community tree; on the right is a picture of me and my two good friends just before stuffing our faces with delicious salad, steak, and desserts.]

It was here at this school where I learned the lesson of gratitude. Beauty is everywhere; all you have to do is look up.
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough--and more.
-Melody Beattie
I also took this wonderful class that I'd originally thought would be the most mundane one in the world: Christianity in Context. My professor was a spry young man filled with fresh ideas that changed my entire perspective on Faith. It was a wonderful experience for me. Although I was introverted, he still asked for my opinions--he did his best to include the entire class on discussions. I wish all theology classes could be as open and welcoming as his.

First semester was also a busy time as I ran from one meeting to the next. I'd wanted so much to be involved, and there were a ton of awesome organizations at this school that I just had to be a part of. I wasn't bored for a moment. Every hour was an adventure!

You could probably imagine how heartbroken I was when I transferred the next semester to a state university due to personal reasons. I don't mean to bring sadness to this blog, but I went through a very difficult period of my life that really rocked my world.

Just so I don't turn this post into a big ol' sob story, I want to say that there are two major things that are helping me move away from all of the pain that happened after my first semester: pursuing my passion and little acts of kindness.

My biggest passion isn't that hard to guess:

End of the year picture of the team! Can you find me?

I joined the Taekwondo team and grew stronger physically and emotionally. I cannot fully express how welcoming, accepting, and loving this team was/is. Taekwondo has been a passion since the first time I tried it a few years ago, but being a part of a group that is as passionate as I am--maybe even more!--pushed me to pursue goals that I'd never even dreamed of before. I love this team so much because they not only gave me a place--they welcomed me here and would probably put up a fight if I tried to leave. (No pun intended.)

Also, the little acts of kindness. They're pretty self-explanatory, but I believe that I wasn't able to appreciate firsthand how impactful they are until this last semester. It's just that my parents raised me to be a headstrong, confident person, and I have been blessed with loving family and simply didn't matter how other people treated me because I had everything that mattered in an arm's reach. But at this new school, feeling as isolated and vulnerable as I did, small glitters of kindness made it all seem that much less hostile.

So when you hear people tell you to always show kindness because you never know what somebody is going through, IT'S TRUE! 

Despite the difficult times, I still found myself growing and smiling. (Continuing with writing the blog and reading your comments really helped keep me on track!) The college experience on its own is uplifting. I had the privilege of sharing my story, listening to others', and becoming a part of their stories too. I look forward to continue this theme of story-telling.

New friends and special memories <3

It was also this semester when I decided that I would take another whack at writing my novel. Remember last November? Hopefully this summer will go a lot better! (One can only hope, right?) Anyway, I'm planning to continue blogging too, so please continue checking in for weekly posts!

I don't know what it'll be like for you guys, reading this diary entry. There is a lot to reflect upon, so I had to pick and choose a couple things to share with you. I'm sorry if it seemed scatterbrained at any points... Picking and choosing can be difficult when it comes to your own life!

But now that you've heard a bit of my year, I'd like to learn about how yours was! What was one of your favorite experiences? What's one thing you've learned? Please leave a comment (or link to your blog if you've reflected on the school year too), and I'll see you next week!

Smile on,
-Riley XO
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