July 31, 2009

(Already) Time for a Change!

I think I might be going crazy…Oh wait, I already am crazy! (My family constantly reminds me of this) But seriously, have you ever done so much research on one topic that your head starts to spin?

I’ve been thinking about giving my blog a face lift. Yeah, the little flowers and scrapbookish pattern are cute, but I got bored with it about a week after launching the blog. So the search begins.

Generally, I’m pretty artistic, but I have to be inspired before all of my ideas start to gel. After two weeks of searching index after index of blogger backgrounds I gave up. Nothing really seemed to fit what I was looking for. Granted, I had no idea what I was looking for, but I figured I would know it when I saw it. Then inspiration struck - “Why can’t I create my own design? It can’t be that hard right?”

Ha! I laugh now at my naivety.

Sure, there are some simple template generators that can help, and Blogging for Dummies is a great resource...but if I’m going to do something, its going to be done right. I want my blog to be memorable and unique, so a killer design is necessary.

I could have a pro do it – but I’m cheap, so this past week I’ve been exhausting every website I can find about creating blogs and writing html. Let me tell you, Google is a fantastic tool! So far I’ve been able to find answers and coding for everything I need.

Hurray! I’m rolling along and learning all of these sweet tips and tricks, but there is only one problem: I still don’t have an inspiration for my design.

Frantically searching more directories, reading articles, and even downloading free digital scrapbooking packages, I was still coming up with a big fat nothing.

It wasn’t until yesterday that, out of the blue, I got it.

Here is a sneak peak at some things that inspired me:

There is still a lot of work to be done, but I am so excited to dive in and conquer the world of Blogger coding. Hopefully I can get everything completed and launched before September.

Wish me luck!

July 29, 2009

Boredom + College Friends = A Mall Invasion

42 Days And Counting – I Guess I’d Better Start Getting Ready

So in exactly 42 days, 2 hours, 9 minutes, and 37 seconds I will be boarding a plane to Italy. (Actually New York first, but you get the picture) It will be the first step on my three month adventure abroad. If you didn’t read my last post about this trip, let me fill you in: I AM GOING TO ROME! One full semester studying and living in Italy!

Needless to say I am very excited about the trip, but preparations keep getting pushed back because I “have all summer:” Well, not anymore...there are books to be ordered, electronic devices that need researched, and 90 days worth of necessities that much be purchased.

So here is my “To Do” of things that must be accomplished before September 9th

Buy School Books – Paperback and internet downloads are the way to go for this gal – beauty product weigh a lot!

Plan Plan Plan – I am fortunate to have my best friend going with me. Our school is planning several trips but the two of decided it is essential that we travel Europe. Trip #1 will be to Milan, trip #2 is Paris, and trip #3 is TBA. I’ve looked up train and plane tickets, but I guess I should buckle down and make some concrete plans ;D

Budget – Get my finances in order. I’ll have to pay my bill for school, plus get the application in for my very first credit cart. Sarah is growing up

Research and Purchase Electronics – First of all I must get a converter and adapter so that I can charge my computer and camera batteries. Last time I went overseas the adapter blew up and ruined my charger sooo needless to say I’m pretty nervous. If anyone has experience or helpful advice it would be appreciated!

I’m also looking into purchasing a new camera. Still researching and deciding how much I can really afford to spend.

Knock Out My Killer Shopping List – Do you know how much make-up/shampoo/soap/facescrub/feminineproducts/contactsolution/deodorant/moose/hairspray a girl uses in three months? It’s a lot! I made my shopping list yesterday of all the necessities I’ll need – It will be around $175 dollars. I am already dreading that shopping trip.

Dealing With My #1 Problem – Fitting all of my clothing, necessities, towels, sheets, and misc items into two suitcases that each weighs less than 50 pounds. I’ve never been a light packer, so this is going to be interesting.

Wow, I feel a mildly extreme panic attack coming on. Any advice from seasoned travelers?
Well, I’d better get moving on this, so I’ll keep you posted….

July 27, 2009

Thank You for the Pain

I think that we grow the most through pain. When your world is completely shaken and everything seems to be broken, you can either morn over the shattered pieces, or see it as a clean foundation for something new. Everyone has experienced heartbreak in some form, so I know I'm not the first and I won't be the last, but I through it all I've grown and learned things that I never would have otherwise.

At the beginning of the summer I felt as though every area in my life was crumbling. I felt helpless and lost, but through this I saw areas in myself where I wanted (and needed) to grow. I made a promise to myself that when I went back to school in the fall I would not be the same person that I was before. I set goals and gave everything over to the Lord so that he could work in me.

My main goal for the summer was to grow in my relationship with the Lord. During the school year I had slipped, and really desired to get back in tune with Him. Beside this, my goals were not major or life changing, but simple things that I put on paper and accomplish.

Here are a few of them:
  • Plan a bonfire (Check! Though it rained and we never had a campfire, I had friends over in anticipation of one)
  • Work Out Regularly (Of course 'regularly' is a relative term)
  • Get Involved in Ministry (I've been a leader in the youth group and have had an opportunity to really bond with some of the girls. Plus, I just got back from an incredible mission trip)
  • Read a Book or Two (Finished "Angels and Demons" and am now skimming another novel)
  • Scrapbook Sophomore Year (This is coming along nicely)
  • Either to See One Friend a Week OR Do Something Special For One Person (Its been wonderful)
Now August and the end of summer is staring me in the face and I realize, I am a different person, but not in the way I thought I would be. When I was bitter and angry and hurt I looked at changing external appearances and actions. But when you give that up, something much better happens inside.

Sure I got a great haircut and a couple cute outfits, but I fell like the Lord has given me an entirely new outlook on life. Through ministry I have learned what it feels like to be selfless and give everything for Him. I have placed new value in who I am and what He has created me to be. And I can't wait to see what is in store for the years ahead.

There is a new Sarah bursting onto the scene who is confident, spontaneous, independent, and full of life. She is ready to dive full force into the future. To take risks and live vivaciously. There is so much that the world has to offer, and so much I have to offer the world. As I stand here looking forward there are so many opportunities and I am quivering with the anticipation of finding out where I belong.

Sure there are bad days, but I am thankful for them. I still battle bitterness and the wounds haven't completely healed - but today is a good day, and I will rejoice in it.

Free Mocha Monday

So, I am a huge fan of cold coffee. Iced or frozen, it doesn't matter, as long as its caffeinated and has whipped cream on top I'm cool. (Haha, get it, 'cool')

Okay, so my sense of humor is pretty lame, but today I did discover the best thing since sliced bread. My Optimistic Daddy got a hankering for an ice cream cone and we made a pit stop at McDonalds on the way home from work.

While in line at the drive-though the words "Free Mocha Monday" caught our eye. My Dad, Sister and I all strained our eyes looking for the small print that said you needed to buy $18 worth of french fries or stand on your head to get this deal, but there was nothing.

So we drive up to the speaker and Optimistic Daddy asks how Free Mocha Monday works.

"You get a mocha for free on Mondays" was the reply

"So, there are three of us in the car," Said Optimistic Daddy, testing the waters, "Does that mean all three of us can get one?"

"Yep" squawked the speaker.

"I'll take three"

We drove around, pretty much in disbelief. I half expected a tiny cup or some weak, crappy coffee, but it was nothing like that. Out of the service window came three large iced mochas with whipped cream and chocolate drizzled on top. And this was no weak coffee. Wonderful, dark, rich espresso. Mmmmmm!

Wait a minute...is that why I'm babbling not stop, giggling, annoying the crap out of my parents, and writing a blog post at midnight???

I think its safe to say that Free Mocha Monday is going to be a ritual from now on!

July 22, 2009

Okay – Its Facebook Official

This morning I logged onto Facebook, and just like every other morning, I was greeted by my home page filled with updates. A convenient way to see what my Facebook friends had been up to since I last logged on. (I call them my “Facebook friends” because even though we have a virtual friendship, that doesn’t mean we really talk)

As I scanned on down the page, I grew more and more disgusted. Status after status, wall post after wall post, were filled either with gushy messages, or a tragic sob story.

Now, I’ve dealt with this before. Summer is when all the college romance dies, (or heats up) but today it seemed extreme.

I am puzzled why anyone would want to share such intimate pieces of information in such a public setting. Am I crazy? Why would I want to read the wall-to-wall conversation between you and your boyfriend/girlfriend? Especially when it is punctuated by excessive amounts of “!!!!” “<3”>

On the flip side, I have been nauseated by sulky profile statuses…I am really sorry that your “heart is in a million pieces and he’s a million miles away” but don’t you have a best friend to go cry to? Your world of “Facebook friends” doesn’t want to know.

Desperate for attention? That is disgustingly sad.

Yeah I know, you can peg me as unsympathetic and heartless…but am I really the only one who feels this way?

Personally, I love sharing exciting things that are going on in my life. I post links and quotes and funny things that happen to me, but I don’t want everybody and their mother to know all the details of my life. (And seriously, by now everybody's mother is on Facebook!) I don’t want just anyone to be able to hop online and read the latest tragedy in Sarah’s life. I have the best friends and family a girl could ask for and they’re my support system – not the cyber world.

July 21, 2009

Sewing Machines, Alfredo, and Friends

Weekends are so much better than any other part of the week. Nothing compares to feeling of freedom that comes in the last few minutes of work on a Friday afternoon. This was especially true this past weekend. I watched the second hand tick tick tick until it finally marked 5:00. Punch out, shut down, run. I was out of there. I had much more important things to be doing…like visiting my wonderful Kettie Friend for the weekend!

I made the trip back up to my college campus for a visit. Unexpectedly, there were quite a few people in from out of town and we had a weekend filled with fun, laughter, and adventure. I'm still trying to figure out how I made it the whole weekend without getting any pictures...but here are few highlights anyways:

- My best friend and I slept in and then just stayed in bed and talked to two hours. I don’t think I’ve done that since grade school.

- Lunch at Sub Palace….oh baked ham and cheese, how I have missed thee

- Visiting the Essigs, my home-away-from-home

- Sewing curtains with Nick – or at least trying too, this was a fiasco. “Screw you sewing machine, Go back to hell where you came from!” (Kettie was a little frustrated)

- Learning to this game and being really bad at it (like cornhole and horseshoes combined…I have no clue what it was called!)

- Going to see the most intense fireworks display ever – This was mainly due to that fact that we were 100 yard from where the fireworks were being set off, so fireballs and burning ash were falling all around us. I saw a stuffed animal catch on fire.

- Staying up until 4am chatting

- Visiting Kettie’s wonderful church and getting to hear Christian preach. Way to go, You were fantastic!

- Chicken Alfredo and (non)Garlic Bread

- Picnicing and saying goodbyes to many new friends

- Walking through my campus in the rain. It was beautiful and quiet….one of my favorite places in the world

Isn’t it strange that a student only spends four years in college and yet it has and impact for the rest of their lives. Now is when I expand my knowledge, train for the future, and form friendships that will last for a lifetime.

It was a wonderful weekend. I was able to spend time with one of my best friends, plus I got the chance to make many new ones.

Gosh, do I really have to graduate?

July 17, 2009

54 Days Until Lift Off.....

I am excited. Maybe just a little bit. Well, maybe I am at a good moderate level of excitement. Okay - I'm REALLY EXCITED!

Here's the deal. On September 9th, 2009, my best friend
Lisa and I, along with sixteen other college students, are going to begin an adventure in Europe. We will be living, learning, and experiencing the culture during a three month long stay!

Our home will be a convent in Rome, Italy. Yes, I said a convent. You know the kind with nuns? The order even has a website you can check out. Our rooms, kitchen, library, and classrooms will occupy one wing of the building, and only a 15 minute bus ride away is the heart of Rome. Check out the slide show for pictures of the location.

Classes are going to be 3 days a week and then field trips once a week. My professor said that these would be pretty laid back. For example, she said we weren't going to all bus down like middle schoolers. Instead, she'll say something like, "Meet me at the Colosseum at noon" And there you go!

We will also be going on several weekend trips to places like Pompey, Venice and Florence. The rest of our weekends are open for travel, and boy are we going to travel. (Lisa and I are planning to make a quick stop in Milan to pick up shoes - then from there, Paris is the limit!)

This is a once in a lifetime experience that I just could not pass up. To be living in Rome and getting to experience it like a local is going to be something I am never going to forget.

So please subscribe and stay tuned! In 54 Days this blog is going to be place to read about my European adventures!!!

July 15, 2009

An Expected Surprise

Picture this: a young woman walking purposefully towards the train station. She tosses her fair into the machine as if she’s done it a million times before. Confidently she crosses the tracks and board the inbound platform, claiming a bench as she patiently waits for the train’s arrival.

......Okay, so maybe it wasn’t exactly like that. Maybe she was running and her hands shook while she straightened out her rumpled dollar bills. Maybe she arrived at the station four with four minutes to spare, praying that she would get on the right train. Yeah, that was me. Once I was seated, the conductor announced that this was “42S” and what a moment of triumph that was!

Then I had one of those ‘grow-up’ moments. You know, when it suddenly hits you that you’re an adult.

I settled into the seat, catching my reflection in the window – it was a good hair day. Pulling out my iPod and a current magazine article, I felt every inch the city girl. Taylor Swift, Coldplay, and Kris Allen tumbled into my ears I glanced around the car. It probably would have made a better story if there were a bunch of unsavory characters on board, but no – just two old ladies and a guy speaking Japanese into his cell phone. Seriously, I’m sure whoever your talking to is not deaf. At least not yet.

After a brief moment of unnecessary panic, I managed to get off at the right station and made my way onto the streets of Pittsburgh. I be-bopped my way for a few city blocks – this time looking every inch the confident young woman. And met my hot date at a classy bar/restaurant that serves tomato basil soup that’s to die for.

Okay, say maybe my hot date was my aunt, but everything else is true.

We played tourist by snapping tons of pictures and then went to see an incredible performance of Le Miserables.

Isn't it funny how growing up just kind of sneaks up on you. A year ago, there is not a chance I would have made that trip. Its amazing how much can happen in 12 months - a mere 356 days. In some ways, when you realize you're a grown-up it’s a surprise, but in others its something that's just a natural instinct. Like breathing, it is just comes naturally.

The Optimist

So you want to know about me? Okay, well to start off I am just an average girl trying to keep a smile on my face, and on the faces of those around me. I’m that annoying person who is always trying the silver lining during a thunderstorm!

A few summers ago I became interested in blogging and caught the bug. In fact, you can read about the illness in this post. Ever since, I’ve tried to faithfully (or sporadically) post my experiences and random thoughts for the world to see. In the fall of 2009, this blog also acted as a venue to keep the world up-to-date on my three month adventure in Rome!

I am the oldest of three, nearly-a-college grad, and future world traveler. In my lifetime I've worked some crazy jobs, including building websites, waiting on tables, blogging and twittering, and hosting a children's television show. Currently I am finishing up my senior year at college - and boy is real life coming up fast! I love my school and the wonderful friends I’ve met there. When I'm not in the library doing homework (or globetrotting) I can be found in the sunshine, dancing, laughing with my housemates, or singing into my hairbrush.

I pretty much consider myself to be the luckiest person alive! I adore my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and He has given me the most amazing family and friends to love. I’ve had the most amazing experiences in my life so far. And my awkwardness usually ensures that I can continue to laugh.

Thank you for visiting An Optimist’s Alcove, Hopefully my posts were able to brighten up your day!

Glad you stopped by, 

July 13, 2009

Truth is Relative

Is there really such a thing as truth?
Wow, I know, that’s a deep question to begin a blog post with, but it’s something that’s been in the back of my mind for a couple weeks. Can we really pin down what truth is?

According to Dictionary.com, Truth is defined as an “agreement with a standard” or “a verified or indisputable fact.” The definition gave the example of mathematical principles. The standard that 1+1 = 2 is a truth that is universally accepted.

So why am I rambling on about math problems? Well, for one, I promised to rant a little in my posts, but mainly it’s because of this nagging suspicion I have that maybe people are not adding correctly in their daily lives.

My whole thought process started after several conversations I had. Each instance was totally unrelated. These friends seemed to think it was okay to act differently around different groups of people. I immediately questioned how honest they were being if they put on a different face depending on their environment.

One response really caught me off guard. They reasoned this was okay because this was who they “really were” and showing “different sides” to different people was okay. “I’m just being genuine with everyone.” Sure, you’ll get to do everything you want to do, unfortunately when you’re running with two totally opposite crowds, this argument doesn’t hold any water. It only ends up hurting others.

So what is truth? If you tell one thing to one person and something different to another – it doesn’t add up. 1 + 1 will never ever ever equal 3 or 11 or 789. Something has to be wrong. One option is not the truth.

Truth is not dependent on our thoughts and emotions.
It is a constant, like that math equation or primary colors. It can not be changed. So its time for all of us to get our heads out of the sand and face reality.

Thanks to those of you out there who do like with integrity. I value your friendship!

And if I just rocked your world because you just realized that 1 + 1 doesn’t equal 3, maybe you need to do some serious thinking about a way to make what you say and what you do add up. I have every confidence that this is something that can be achieved.

Seeking Truth,

July 7, 2009

Pomp and Circumstance - Take #2 For the Hendersons

I’ve heard that time goes faster as you get older…and I think that just might be true. It seems like just yesterday it was July of 2007 and I was getting ready to begin my freshman year of college. Now its July of 2009, I am a junior, and my baby sister just graduated from high school!!! Now I’m not sure what’s happening, but whatever it is, I need to find a way to make it stop!

But seriously, a graduation is a bitter/sweet moment. It ends one chapter of your life, but opens another. And when you’re standing there with your whole future ahead everything looks beautiful – and let me tell you, my sis stepped out with a bang!

From her long hair (which took me an hour to straighten) to her bright yellow dress, to her white sling back, peep-toed heals, she looked gorgeous! I’ve never seen my little sister look so beautiful…she looked like Anne Hathaway – only better :)

The ceremony was wonderful. Rachael read a poem she had written, which is going to a national competition. There were several great speeches, and lots of sentimentality.

Here are some pictures of the ceremony…party pics to come!

The Class of 2009

Mom and Dad presenting Rachael's Diploma

Some Henderson Family

Congrats Rachael!!!
Much love

More pictures to come soon on my Facebook Page.

July 3, 2009

When the Weather Man is Wrong

Today is the 3rd of July and it was supposed to be warm and sunny. Well, I just checked and there is no sign of Mr. Sun anywhere. Perhaps a more appropriate title for this post would have been, “When is the Weather Man Ever Right?!

So, I was pondering my current dark mood and decided to see if there was a chance it could be related to the weather. (Or if it’s just the fact that I’m at work)

When I was growing up, my Nana used to call me ‘Sarah Sunshine’ and the name stuck. If the weather is nice I am usually in a fantastic mood. Friends at school have told me they can see this difference. One even said that I even dress differently depending on my mood. Well, why wouldn’t you wear bright colors on a sunny day?

So, to me this theory makes perfect sense – but how does it pan out in science? I found one article on WebMD that claimed weather has no significant effect on a person’s mood! However, the University of Michigan found that this st
udy did not take into account how much time the participants spend outside.

After performing another study, the University of Michigan found that 30 minutes in the sunshine can improve your mood!
They also found that spending time indoors on a nice day actually decreases your mood. That is just one more reason why college professors need to move classes outside in the spring!

Hey, did you know it has been found that, on average, 72 degrees is the optimal mood temperature? And that most people spend 93% of their time indoors (I was blown away by this number at first, but it’s so true.)

So I’m going to sit here and keep peaking out the window for any sign of the sun. May your holiday weekend be happy and sunny!

Wishing for sunshine,

July 1, 2009

Baby Cousin + Hot Sunglasses = A Wordless Wednesday Worthy Photo


Treating the Blogging Bug!

It’s been a few weeks since I caught the blogging bug, and the symptoms are always the same. Surfing the internet for cute layouts and a nagging urge to document ones thoughts. However, one thing held me up – what was I going to call this blog? It needed to be catchy and fun, something that was unique and expressed something about me. I went through dozens of ideas before the light bulb finally went off.
Wa la - this is the result!

I want this blog to be about things I am thinking about and experiencing, but it’s always going to be…optimistic! Sure, there will be a lot of random rants and ramblings, but hopefully they’ll still put a smile on your face.

Another blogging event I’ll be participating in is Wordless Wednesday. Be sure to check back every Wednesday for a crazy picture that encapsulates my life at that current moment.

Oh one more thing – I love comments! Haha, especially if you have a blog I can add to my blog roll. Oh, and
maybe some of my posts might be a little controversial or thought provoking, but its all part of the game.

Be sure to check back in September. This is going to be the official spot to hear all about my adventures in
Rome. I’ll be in Europe for three months, and reading this blog is going to be the next best thing to being there!

Still smiling,