Temporary Home

You don’t have to listen to country music to know who Carrie Underwood is. She’s a gorgeous blonde singer known for her girl power and bombshell voice. She talks about getting revenge on cheating boyfriends and being an all-American girl. There’s another song that comes to mind at this time in my life, a good-ole tear jerker titled “Temporary Home” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LraOiHUltak)

“This is my temporary home. It’s not where I belong. Windows in rooms that I’m passing through. This is just a stop, on the way to where I’m going. I’m not afraid because I know this is my temporary home.”

These lyrics ring particularly meaningful for me in this time of my life because I have moved back for the short summer timeframe, away from the college dorm and hallway and elevator and dining hall that I had called home for the past eight months of my life.

Transitions and change have never been my strong suit, I just pretend that I’m organized and have it all together. I have this secret superpower where I appear calm and composed and educated on the outside, while monkeys rip apart the walls of my brain and burn everything into chaos on the inside.

Leaving my childhood home was rough. The monkey’s became so sad and confused once they had torn my insides to shreds, and they moped around for a while not knowing what to destroy next.

And then, my home became the dorm. It became a buffet meal and talking to my best friend while we procrastinated projects and papers. It became going to sports events and going out late on the weekends. It became my new way of life.

The months passed, finals were studied for and completed, the flowers bloomed, and all of my possessions were shoved in the back of my car and shipped back to the place they originated. This quick transition and barely good-bye wrecked havoc as the monkeys had the rug ripped right out from underneath their content chaos, the poor things.

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Coming home, there was so many old and murky memories that were dredged to the top of the crystal clear lake that college had formed. All of a sudden, I had rules to follow again. I had responsibilities to handle, I had to get a job and rearrange furniture and talk to people I hadn’t heard from since high school. Even though I was back in my “home”, the picture didn’t hang straight on the wall. Something was always a little off.

I have a theory to the crooked picture, despite how much repositioning I’ve tried. It hangs lopsided because I know that in two months the picture will be stacked back into a box and moved away again, this time for an entire year’s worth of an apartment lease.

I’m afraid to get too comfortable, when I know I’ll be leaving again.

I’ll always have to deal with the past when it comes to transitions and changes and moving life around every few months/years. That’s what being a young adult is about. We were built to overcome the temporary, and adapt to our environment.

However, I think back to the sad country song, and how all of these places are just my temporary home. I don’t know where I belong, if it’s even a place. I’m just passing through, and keeping the monkeys as calm as possible while doing so. Keeping the future in balance with the past is challenging, but a necessary part of surviving.


Yours with honesty,


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Confession: I Watch Jersey Shore

I’m assuming that the title enough gives away what I’m about to talk about, and I’m excited to address/admit to the fact that I still watch reruns of Jersey Shore shamelessly.


I have met other scholarly-inclined people in my career and schooling, people who preach about the dangers and time consumption of television- especially the mind-numbingly pointless garbage reality shows (not my words), and if one wants to succeed in life, he or she must not spend time sitting idly by leaving Cheeto-dust fingerprints on the remote as they switch channels.

The theory behind this behavior is a psychological one (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-view-venus/201411/reality-television-behind-the-obsession), and essentially describes that the reason why we are so drawn to television, especially reality shows like Keeping Up With the Kardashians, is because it’s an escape from our own boringness and a dive into something different. Maybe your fetish is the hillbilly patriarchy (Duck Dynasty) or the fantasy of competing at such a high level while trying to juggle childhood (Dance Moms, Toddlers and Tiaras). Whatever it is you wish you could do (or the opposite seems to fascinate equally), some producer has created a show to represent it. 

My fascination with reality TV is simply learning and observing a lifestyle outside of my own, and I feel like his extends beyond the realms of the reality TV lens. When it comes to Jersey Shore, things like the intertwined relationships of the people in the house, the easy-going party-centered lifestyle, and Snooki’s personality, keep me coming back.

However, when analyzed with the above article of the psychology behind reality television, I don’t ever feel the intense craving to spend the summer in New Jersey, or stay out until 4 am bar-hopping. I watch the show because I learn about people and places and situations so unlike anything in my life. And also because I often laugh out loud, and humor is my main source of entertainment in a world of sad news stories and political arguments. 


Therefore, this whole Jersey Shore post just goes to explain the educational connection of reality television. Or just my excuse as to why I still crack up every time Snooki or DJ Pauly D do something humorous.

Either way, don’t be afraid to admit to the fact that you still watch “mind-numbingly pointless garbage reality shows” and love every minute of it. 

Stay shameless,


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A Letter to My Future Child: Planning with Patience

Dear Future Child,

Everyone functions differently. I’m sure you are aware at this point in your life that I’m a planner. I get it from my own mom and despite the “stress” it causes her and the family, according to my father, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Planning each month, each week, each day brings me comfort, security, and satisfaction that I’m doing something with my life, but I sometimes worry that I won’t ever get over this feeling of endless desire to reach the greater purpose of my life (and help you reach yours, of course). 

I’ll admit that there’s also a great downfall to being an obsessive planner: disappointment. There was a time in my life (and maybe there still is) that if things didn’t go according to my perfect, meticulous plan, than the entire day was ruined. Dinner plans got moved, I got called in to work, a project got canceled, someone got sick, the rain prevented a beautiful day of activities, etc etc, it all flipped my entire mindset, attitude, and mood to gloom and misery. Once one thing was turned down, the entire blueprint spiraled downhill with it, mostly because of my “all-or-nothing” mindset (https://www.verywellmind.com/all-or-nothing-thinking-2584173).


If there’s one weakness (or a few) that I hope you don’t pick up from me, it’s the extreme mindset that even if the smallest of situations flop, everything is sure to do the same. If I have my way, and with enough help, I will train myself to stop thinking this way, but old habits die hard, honey.

Now, as a nineteen-year old trying to succeed and produce greatness from my existence, my plan is my lifeline. And when my plans don’t go according to plan (as they often tend to do, c’est la vie, darling), the whole day might as well be over. You can imagine how problematic this is for a college student trying to balance making money, having a relationship, staying healthy and active, keeping up with friends, and pursuing a writing career on the side. These things require planning now, and planning for the future, when I get to start hanging out with you!

And from this lesson, I want you to know how important it is to plan for what you want. Set your mindset for something wonderful, something magnificent, something bold and revolutionary. You are always and already meant for big things. But I also want you to know how important it is to not allow these plans to control you. Be independent. Be flexible. Be adventurous. And don’t worry so much about the weather or a slight adjustment to the schedule.

It all works out in the end, because your plan is so much smaller in comparrasion to your purpose on this planet. You’ll figure that out sooner than later. I believe in your power already, little one.



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My First Year of College: Part II

I have been home for a few days now, and yet the boxes of miscellaneous papers, folders, and random clothing I’ve acquired are still sprinkled around the house. It’s great to be home and with my family and dogs and eat healthy food and see old friends, but I already find myself missing the Kansas weather and the predictability of my life in college. To reminisce, I’m going to share the last fifteen lessons I learned in my first year, and can’t wait to continue into next.


  • Don’t try to follow the trends.

It’s nearly impossible to keep up with the trends of college, so don’t let it bother you when you don’t own the same shoes as every other girl in your class- your uniqueness is what others will remember you by.


  • There will not be a trigger warning.

    One of the most important things I learned this year. There won’t be a trigger warning. The shelter that has hung over your head for eighteen years will be ripped from it’s foundation, leaving you soaking cold and wet in the rain of life. Life is evil, life is gory, life is violent. These are three traits I was unaware of because of my carefully-protected childhood. There isn’t any protection in college, and you will see/hear things you will want to forget. I am so sorry about this one, because the first time you witness something that should have come with a warning, you won’t forget it.

  • Outsmart the parking system.

    I’ll keep this one short, because I got three parking tickets of $25 each this year. Needless to say, do whatever you can to outsmart the parking system, or you will pay the price.


  • Establish who takes out the trash:

    I lived in a suite dorm, which had two bathrooms, two bedrooms, and one big main room. There were four of us living here, which meant that things could get gross  pretty quickly- mostly the trash. I don’t want to elaborate. Halfway through the first semester, I made a trash chart to help fix the problem, but life gets in the way and the trash continues to overflow. Stick to a plan, and clean your dorm at least once a week people.


  • Guys will cat call you.

    Girls, please be aware, that it will happen. College boys (not men, boys) will do it, and middle-aged boys (again, no man would stoop this low) will do it. It will happen on campus, at the gas station, and when you’re walking downtown. Ignore their idiocy, and please buy pepper spray, just in case. It gives me confidence and assurance so that I can keep walking with my head held high.


  • Study a map and figure out the transportation system.

    I go to a rather large and spread-out University, with my farthest class building being a little over a mile walk away. This was never an initial concern of mine (until it rained or snowed), but my roommate was very concerned with how we would get around campus. One of my first memories was of her studying the campus map for a solid thirty minutes, and tracing out every route. She memorized the buildings and every bus route, and was way more prepared than me when it came to getting around campus. Even though I laugh at her tedious map-scrutinizing, it’s way better to be prepared than stuck/lost in the rain (without an umbrella!).


  • Make at least one friend per class.

    As tempting as it might be to just sit quietly in the back and leave the second class is dismissed, try to talk to someone around you. If you miss a lecture, you’ll always have notes, and if someone makes an obnoxious/ignorant comment, you can exchange *the look*.


  • Don’t let fear change your plans.College is scary. Even more so if you have social anxiety or unease. There will be many, many events on campus and parties off campus. You should go to both. There will be times when your head discovers every excuse possible as to why you should put on sweatpants and climb into bed. This is a fear- based mindset and you don’t need it.


  • FaceTime even if you don’t have makeup on.

    Leaving my family/childhood home was one of the hardest aspects of college for me, but we established a routine of regular FaceTiming for family dinner on Sunday night. Even though I would talk to my mom 2+ times a day, I missed the boys in my family (and dogs!) and FaceTime was the perfect way to stay in touch, even though most Sunday nights I looked like a tired grease ball. Don’t be vain in college, answer the call despite your appearance.


  • The food at the dining hall sucks.

    You will be deceived by the faked joy when you tour your college, because when it actually comes down to arriving at the salad bar with the most expensive meal plan, the only thing you’ll taste is instant regret. Don’t buy the full meal plan, invest in a mini-fridge, microwave, and your own silverware/dish ware- get creative with what you can in the dorm.


  • Walk everywhere.

    Like I mentioned, my campus is very large and spread-out. For some, this is annoying and tedious, but for me, it’s paradise. Walking two miles to and from class is one of the best parts of my day, especially with the normally beautiful weather. My roommate has said that one of her favorite parts of college has been enjoying the beauty of the campus/nature. In on instance, she actually touched the bark of a tree and felt the leaves, a transcendent experience. I found humor in imagining this scene, but also understood the calming feeling of the world under your feet.


  • You will get into fights with significant other because of long distance.

    One of the sad truths of living far away from the one you love, is that while distance makes the heart grow fonder, agitation from separation makes it irritated. Communication is already one of the biggest problems between couples, and when the communication is mainly done over text message, the problem intensifies. The fights grow in number, but are usually insignificant in the long run, and although my boyfriend and I found ourselves in arguments nearly every week, I can’t recall nearly 3/4th’s of them.



  • Being on your own can be good.

    Establishing your own independence is one of the single best things I’ve taken away from college. You are in control of your life, and for the first time it feels like the reigns are in your hands. Being on your own will teach you about what the world is like outside of the shelter of high school, but this can have its own downfalls which leads me to..


  • Being on your own can be bad.

    Oh my gosh being on your own can be scary. Going to the doctors, buying groceries, getting parking tickets, getting stuck in the rain, getting lost in an unfamiliar area, getting cat-called alone downtown, and paying bills are just a few items on the long list of terror. And yet. It gets easier, it becomes more natural to welcome these challenges into your everyday life. C’est la vie, you’re living it now.


  • There is so much pressure.College thrives on pressure, it goes hand in hand with keeping up with the endless tasks of adulthood. In college you will experience the pressure to get a job and make money to pay off your debt and go on spring break trips. You will feel pressure to follow a budget, and maintain a savings account despite every tuition bill in your inbox. There will be pressure to maintain weight, and fit into tiny skirts and short dresses at parties. There will be pressure to fit in with everyone else, and wearing these tiny skirts and short dresses is one way to do so. There will be pressure to get good grades, because certain things (scholarships and future careers) depend on them. College is all about pressure, so learn to live with it and conquer it head on before it overcomes your mindset.


With all of these things in mind, I will continue to move into the summer and my sophomore year with more experience, and a sense of preparedness. However, this is always when the best lessons are taught, usually the hard way. I’ll be ready.


Madeleine Rheinheimer

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My First Year of College Part I

This is my last week of my first year of college. And boy have I learned some things. I’ve learned how to be strong on my own, but I’ve had my weaker moments. I’ve learned that it’s such a blessing to be where I am doing what I’m doing, and I’ve learned to wake up every day thankful. I’ve also learned some other things that I’d like to share, but the list was so long I had to break it down into two parts. The second list will be published sometime next week, but for now, read up, study, and learn through my eyes just what the first year of college will teach you.

  • 1. Go to office hours.

I am ashamed but I am honest – I didn’t go to any of my professors office hours. It isn’t because they weren’t cool or weird or anything, this was strictly on me and the social anxiety I developed this year. My advice, try something new, don’t let fear stop you from expanding your resources.


  • 2. Sharing a shower/bathroom will always be disgusting.

Especially when the people you live with have darker hair than you. My thin blonde locks did nothing to prepare me for the horror that lies in the shower drain. I recommend not looking down.


  • 3. Try new things.

Go out late at night, wake up early to watch the sunrise. Pet random dogs. Rent a bike. Eat Greek food. Find a dance club. Go to the local church. Wear bright clothes. Join a club. Drive around. Just embrace that you are free now, you make your own rules, and you get to decide how you spend your time.


Walking around Kansas City, embracing our youth and freedom. 

  • 4. Eating healthy is hard.

Freshman fifteen? It’s a real thing. There will not be healthy, organic options when you share a mini fridge and don’t have a stove or oven. And for someone with body image issues, this weight gain can knock out ones confidence in less than a week. Prepare yourself for these changes, and know that they aren’t permanent- and a lot of people are feeling the same.


  • 5. Communicate with your roommate.

Establishing a relationship with the person you will be spending the whole year with is so important. We’ve all heard the horror stories, but why haven’t we heard more about the lifelong bonds that were made in that tiny dorm room? Talk to your roommate when you’re feeling weighed down, talk to them if you don’t have anyone else to talk to. They’re likely experiencing the same things as you, and finding commonalities like these will help the friendship grow.


  • 6. Remember an umbrella.

There were far too many mornings when I rushed out the door without grabbing an umbrella, or even a jacket. This can be a day ruiner, folks.


  • 7. Listen to podcasts.

There is a lot of commute time in between classes and to-and-from the dorms. Instead of listening to the top 100 (overplayed) charts, find some free podcasts. They can be humorous or educational, and always entertainment!


  • 8. Embrace differences.

In this unique little community of a campus, there will be people from all over the world walking past. They will believe in different things, eat different foods, and speak different languages. They will study differently and party different and you need to understand that it’s okay to be different. You are here to learn (yes, even about yourself), so don’t get discouraged when you stand out amongst the crowd.


  • 9. Clean your dorm

You would think this is a no-brainer, but procrastination often takes effect through the piles of maybe dirty clothes and plastic silverware. Take just five minutes a day to pick up, do laundry, take the trash out, spray some Febreeze.


  • 10. Don’t waste time between classes.

If you have anything over a thirty minute gap between classes, use it! Chances are, your brain is still in productive mode, and finished assignments by the time you’re done with the day will create a more relaxed and laid-back nighttime vibe rather than the stress to turn it in by 11:59.


  • 11. Read the local newspaper.

This became a habit of mine, and I learned so much about the wonderful town I live in, and the people in it. I read about art fairs and concerts and politics and lots of other opportunities to get out of my dorm and embrace the local culture.


The giant friendly dog I met downtown.

  • 12. The random fire alarm will traumatize you.

More than 4 times, my roommate and I were woken in terror, often after midnight, by the fire alarm ringing through our room and the entire dorm building. A few times we smelled smoke (burnt popcorn always), and were wearing our pajamas and slippers in the Midwest winter nights. Whoever is in charge of this system- fix it. This is so unacceptable.


  • 13. You will lose friends from home.

Extremely sad to come to terms with, but it’s also reality. They will establish their college friends and habits, you, yours. And that’s okay, and healthy! However, come summer, reestablish the bond you had in high school and get together just for old times sake.


  • 14. You are old enough to go to the doctor alone.

This one hurts, but when the situation becomes desperate enough, you will somehow find the strength to get yourself out of bed and limp to the campus doctors clinic. I was even prescribed real antibiotics! Going to scary places like the doctors alone will make you appreciate the comfort of your mother even more.


  • 15. Developing a routine will get you through.

College is full of new things, and this will overwhelm you within the first few hours of moving into the dorms. Develop a routine of when you eat, when you shower, when you make time for homework, and when you get to go out and have fun on the town. In the craziness of college living, establishing a set routine will balance everything out.


There are more life lessons I learned (mostly the hard way) that I’d like to share, so keep an eye out for part two next week. I also move back for the summer next week, so I’m sure the transition will find its way into a blog post or two.

Best wishes,

Madeleine Rheinheimer

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A Letter To My Future Child: Slow Down

Dear Future Child,

You will watch a lot of movies growing up, and not just when I get too tired to fully supervise you (even though movies are a great alternate babysitter). And one of those movies will be Ferris Buehler’s Day Off. Not only will this movie teach you about being young and reckless, it will teach you about slowing down. As Ferris says while he constructs his master plan to get out of another mundane day of high school, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”


And if this isn’t the cold hard truth, I don’t know what is.

There will be days when you wish life would move faster. When the shower is cold and you spill your cereal and get stuck in traffic and stub your toe and breakup with a boyfriend and fail a test and miss an opportunity and cry yourself to sleep. Because that’s life. I can’t protect you from days like these, and every time they happen I’ll wish I could. However, every day is only 24 hours, the good and the bad.

And you’d be surprised how fast 24 hours can go when you aren’t expecting it.

My dear child, the main takeaway from this post is to slow down. If there’s one piece of advice I’d give myself, it’s this. Because I’ve been moving so fast, my entire first year of college is over in three weeks. I’ve been moving so fast that my second decade will be here in a few months, and that’s an important, meaningful age. I’ve been moving so fast, that sometimes I don’t even take the time to appreciate how beautiful life can be through a non-stressed lenses.

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I walk too fast, because I don’t want to be late. I eat too fast, mostly because I’m not as mindful as I should be. I shower too fast, so that I have enough time to dry my hair. I drive way too fast, and don’t have an actual excuse for this one other than a lack of patience.

I want you to slow down today when you go for walk, and enjoy the color of the flowers in our yard. Slow down when you eat lunch, and think about how wonderful the combination of rice and seaweed pairs together (if you end up eating as much sushi as I do, anyways). Slow down when you shower today, I promise our water bill will maintain the heat. And most importantly, never get into the habit of driving as fast as your mother. This one is non negotiable.

And you know what? If you have to skip a day or two of school to stop and look around every once in a while, I’ll call in and tell the office you have a fever. Life’s too short not to.

Yours truly,


Bronchitis, Bagels, and iBooks

I do my best to keep my posts uplifting and inspiring,  but sometimes it’s hard to stay positive when you’ve coughed for so long the headache pounds in your ears. My small ailments of last week are laughing at the fate of this week, and even though it is only Wednesday, I am exhausted.

College is about independence and self-discovery, and those are two wonderful and essential things. But, through being forced to be independent I have discovered that I hate going to the doctors without my mom. Especially one that I am unfamiliar with. In the past four days I have visited two clinics, and had to keep a list on my phone of my current prescription doses, symptoms, and past illnesses. I’ve had to pretend to be brave, and pretend to know what I was doing. And I had to do all of this while trying to simultaneously blow my nose, cough, and breathe.


One doctor said I had an upper-respiratory infection, the other said I had bronchitis. Both are complicated, and both suck, mostly because of my asthma and hatred of medicine. But in order to be independent and learn to take care of myself, I had to visit a pharmacy to buy steroids, antibiotics, nasal spray, decongestant pills, cough drops, and Vitamin C. I also have to remember to take the correct doses at the correct times and try not to feel dizzy or forget which pill is which. 

At this point, I am trying to remember where I’m going with this post, and which medicine I still have to take before bed. But from the title, I know what I wanted to share: The two things that have been getting me through this prolonged sickness are bagels and iBooks. And I can explain both without any confusion.

Because my body isn’t conditioned to taking conventional medicine in such high doses, I find myself both painfully hungry and equally nauseas. I have tried oatmeal, jello, honey, rice, but the food that has helped me the most are baby bagels. The bland, chewy, mini-bread has become a part of my daily diet, and I can shamelessly admit I’ve eaten four or five a day. This probably isn’t good in the long run, but I also won’t be sick for much longer (knock on wood).


The second thing that has gotten me through the long, restless nights of coughing and fitful tossing and turning is iBooks. Because I share a room, I can’t turn on a light to read books when I wake up every two hours to take medicine and can’t fall back asleep. I’ve been passing the long nights scrolling through novels on my phone, and am so thankful for modern technology like the online bookstore in the palm of my hand.

I guess I am thankful for modern medicine too, because without it I wouldn’t be able to get through the nausea, the insomnia, and the bronchitis that has struck me down. And most of all, I will be thankful once the pills start kicking in.

Trying my best,


Shades of Yellow

As ridiculously busy as I’ve been this week (and this whole last month of college for crying out loud), I’ve began to notice something peculiar, randomly, and possibly meaningless. But I don’t believe in coincidences, and my eyes have been drawn to every deep yellow color I come across. A mustard-y, buttery, honey, dandelion-y color, in hundreds of different shades and hues appeared before my daily routines.

I’ve spent the week trying to distract myself from the throbbing in my head and the raw irritation in my throat, so paying attention to the small things has been what really got me through. Because of this exasperating cold, I’ve been ingesting as much turmeric as possible (if you don’t know about this amazing supplement, educate yourself! https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-turmeric) And guess what color turmeric is when mixed into food or drink?

Now, this color isn’t bright, not a neon or a glowing, but rather a type of yellow that you want to curl around and take a nap in. The kind of yellow that feels like lotion soaking into dry and cracked skin on cold days. The type of yellow that tastes warm and soothing and reminds you that the seasons are changing, but each change is gradual.

I have such an issue with change. And yet it happens anyways.

C’est la vie; this too shall pass.

But this winter kicked my ass, and even though there is the occasional day of above 50 degrees, April is proving to be no exception. The Midwest sure likes to pull the heartstrings of my seasonal affective disorder, and the only change I’m looking for is one where the tulips bloom and the sun shines (an obsession with yellow has taken over my life).

2114bcdc07ccde8be742e8dca18ab6fb.jpgThey say to look at life through the rose-colored glasses in order to live an optimistic life, but I’m deciding to find a pair of mustard yellow glasses, because if I can’t find the sunshine then I’ll make it. Here’s to a better week full of warm hues and warm air.

Hopeful (and very under the weather),




A Letter To My Future Child: Finding Where You Belong

Dear Future Child,

I am writing to you from my college dorm in Kansas. I am not from here, but it feels like home. My other home, my childhood house and city is 200 miles away. Someday, I am hoping to move to Arizona, a warm, sunny place, where you might even be born.

I’m not sure where my true home is or if I know what it feels like, but I get glimpses here and there. Home isn’t a place, dear child. It’s a feeling. And I’m hoping that through my letters, my other writings, and my instructions to you as a mother (and a friend?) I can teach you where to capture that feeling.

As a child, you don’t get to choose where you live, how big your house is or who your neighbors are. I grew up aimlessly happy, and loved everything about my surroundings. I lived in the outskirts of a large city, the ideal location to be close enough to the buzz, but far enough to avoid the noise. I played in grassy fields and wooded areas with my brothers, my family grew flowers and vegetables, and we fell asleep listening to crickets, frogs, and owls.


Fishing in the cold and rain and knee-length jean shorts. (Notice how I refused to hold the nasty fishing line).

But as my primary childhood came to an end, I had to make a decision. There weren’t any upper level schools near our house, so I had to either go 15 minutes up the highway into the country or 15 minutes towards the heart of the city. Somehow, I don’t remember the choice being difficult, because maybe I was more easy going then.

I chose to stay in the country.

The school was in a town, a small one, and someday I’ll tell you more in depth about this kind of lifestyle. The rumors, the gossip, the drama, the drinking, the drugs, the abuse, all swept under the rug of the one road that runs through the middle of the town. Some people are raised to believe this way of life is how the world spins, despite being hidden behind fields of corn and beans. In fact, this is the common ideology for many, many families in the Midwest, and even America.

It took me four years to open my eyes to my potential future, and I quickly decided what I wanted couldn’t be achieved because of where I was, the habits I had formed, and who I had surrounded myself with. I left, honey, I left just as quickly as the realization was made.

As my teenage years came crashing over me, it was clear that I was missing something. This was the first time I questioned what in the heck I was doing here? Not in small town Nebraska, not even in the United States, but in the world. What was my purpose in life? Poor sixteen year-old me was confused and lost, trying to find home.


Daydreaming at 15 about a future here (Arizona).


I found condolences in my parents and family of course, but lost most of my friends who couldn’t see through the glasses I began to wear. These glasses showed me how terrible the world could be, and also how much potential lay on the other side of the country fields. I was led to believe that I was the only one who could save myself, and formed a personal escape mission called “college”.

Fortunately, I was detoxed from my previous adolescent years through a private education for my last two years of high school, and many doors and windows were open to aid my getaway. The thought of leaving my family (my mom and grandma?! How could I?) was horrific, but so was getting trapped in a mundane and monotonous lifestyle.  I knew I was set on finding a place far away and warm, so I narrowed my options down to Arizona and Texas. I visited beautiful campuses and toured regal areas full of sunny hallways and trails, each with bright and shiny writing programs, and yet I left each place surprisingly underwhelmed.

What was missing? I was transported back a few years to the emptiness, the unknown location I found myself seeking but not knowing its name. I was discouraged and began losing hope, and my dad persuaded me to tour a school in Kansas, even though the thought of staying in the Midwest made me want to gag.

And from here, you can guess what happens next in the story. Our car pulled onto campus, and knew before even stepping out of the vehicle, before touring the campus, before I even looked in to the English programs, I knew that I was home. I didn’t tell anyone about this conclusion for a month, because I was embarrassed. I wasn’t about to give up my dream of an extravagant lifestyle on the outskirts of the country.

Overlooking the football field on my campus

I kept looking for a sign, something to tell me which direction to follow. And every night that I lay awake staring at the ceiling, the feeling in my chest returned when I thought of the buildings and the dorms and the sidewalks teeming with young life.

I am writing to you from a place that is in the middle of the Midwest, but it’s everything I’ve ever wanted for this time in my life. I have found where I belong, for now at least, and my only hope for you is that you can experience the same feeling of belonging.

I will do whatever it takes to show you the way, always.



My Ultimate Bookshelf

I know, I know, I just got done talking about how much I love aimlessly wandering through libraries and accidentally knocking over books, but I can’t stop thinking about them. Books to a writer is like a triple-layer chocolate cream cake to a sugar addict. Writers are essentially just book addicts.

Believe it or not, I only recently sat down to create a “Goodreads” account (I didn’t even realize my own book was in their collection), and have become infatuated all over again with reading as much as humanly possible. If you are a fellow reader, you can follow me at: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/78341715-madeleine-rheinheimer

And I thought it’d be appropriate for me to share my go-to novels, essays, stories and the OCCASIONAL e-book (it’s not a sin, okay? I know the clashing sides who claim that a true book must be bound with pages, but reading on the bus to class is much easier on my phone.)

Another thing I must admit to… I don’t read series. I don’t read popular series is what I mean. Yes, that includes “Twilight”, “Harry Potter”, “The Hunger Games”, “City of Bones”, “Divergent”, “Maze Runner”, etc etc etc. I have received much criticism from fellow reader friends who insist I’m missing out, but I enjoy looking for unpredictable and realistic books. Without further ado, here is my dream bookshelf.

  • “I’ll Give You the Sun” by Jandy Nelson, Fiction
    • This book is one of my yearly reads, and each time I find a new reason to cry with overwhelming emotion. This may or may not be my all-time favorite book, between the lovable characters and Jandy Nelson’s impressive and unique writing.



  • “You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life” by Jen Sincero, Self Help
    • I’ll admit it – I like to read a lot of self help books. Due to my lack of patience and need for control in my life, I often turn to books for advice. “You Are a Badass”, however, is much much better than the other whiny, victimizing toned books in the genre. Jen Sincero is honest, hilarious, and will help you get to where you need to be.



  • “Eat Pray Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert, Memoir
    • Someone recommended Elizabeth Gilbert to me a few years back, as she is a well-known and successful female writer, and “Eat Pray Love” was the first book I picked up. I was mesmerized by the strong narrator and every adventure she found herself in.



  • “The Help” by Katherine Stockett, Fiction
    • I read this book before I saw the popular movie, and along with “I’ll Give You The Sun”, is one of my yearly reads. The voice, the characters, the changing narrators, the interwoven plot, and especially the fact that it’s a book about a writer, I love “The Help” for so many reasons.



  • “Helium” by Rudy Francisco, Poetry
    • Rudy Francisco quickly became my favorite spoken word poet (if you haven’t seen him yet, just watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDa4WTZ_58M ). “Helium” is Rudy’s first collection, and it’s been extremely successful for this generation. I personally feel the emotion and energy of his voice in every page, and could reread this book every night.



  • “Grasshopper Jungle” by Andrew Smith, Fiction
    • When I first found Andrew Smith’s books in a bookstore one Saturday morning it was by accident. And now he’s one of my all-time favorite authors, I’ve never found writing comparable to his. My two other favorite’s of Andrew Smith’s are “100 Sideways Miles” (love love love) and “Winger” (cried cried cried).



  • “The Five People You Meet In Heaven” by Mitch Albom, Fiction
    • Speaking of crying, I had to add this Mitch Albom novel. Short, and definitely not sweet, this was the first book that ever made me cry. The format and the initial idea is genius, and of course the connections are perfect. But so freaking sad, dammit.


  • “Bossypants” by Tina Fey, Autobiography
    • I am an instant sucker for humor when it comes to books (and movies), because sad things make me extra sad. And no one makes me laugh harder than Tina Fey (and Amy Poehler), especially when it comes to girl power in comedy.



  • “Bad Feminist” by Roxane Gay, Nonfiction
    • I am taking a nonfiction class in college at the moment, and of all the work we read and study, I’ve grown fond of the voice of Roxane Gay. Not to mention, this book is fantastic and funny and sad and true and everyone should read it, to become a better, more open minded person.



  • “Milk and Honey” / “The Sun and Her Flowers” by Rupi Kaur, Poetry
    • I’ve admired the work of Rupi Kaur for a few reasons, one being that she is paving the way for self-published poetry, and two for her outspoken and fearless themes. Both of her books became bestsellers, and feature her own artwork, which add to these beautiful collections.


There you have it, my short, summarized list of a few favorites. After inserting the covers of each book, I noticed that I may be drawn to bright colors. They’re really good books nonetheless, and check out the link to “Goodreads” for a more in depth inventory.

Peace and blessings,