My Roommate: 12 DOG

Today I am very grateful for a person, and one that I’ve been meaning to talk about for a while now. College has given me a number of things in the first semester, more than just an education and a fresh start at being an adult. The biggest present that I have been gifted in college is my roommate, who is conveniently named Maddie.

I first met Maddie at orientation over the summer, and it was like meeting a date on the internet (which happens to be how we found each other coincidentally). We quickly established a bond over our countless similarities, which have become rather too much of a coincidence if you ask me… someone has some explaining to do, because we may be experiencing a Lindsay Lohan “Parent Trap” kind of situation here.

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For example, Maddie and I have the same name. We both wear glasses. We have similar hair colors and style. We both have the same nose piercing, and wear three Pandora rings on our fingers. We both have a similar taste in clothes, and more than once have accidentally worn the same thing. We each have three tattoos, two on our wrist and one on our foot. We both have long-distance boyfriends who live in Missouri. We both have a shopping problem. We both have two younger siblings (her sisters, my brothers). We share the same taste in literature, and music (she forced me to listen to so much Taylor Swift that I actually started to enjoy it).

Thankfully as proof that we aren’t sisters, long lost twins, or robots, we have our differences. Maddie loves meat, in particular, hamburgers. I have been both a vegan and vegetarian frequently throughout my life. She hates chocolate. All I ever want to eat is chocolate.  Maddie has this weird obsession with slime (yes, like the sticky goo little kids play with..) I on the other hand, have normal teenage girl obsessions. She likes to watch movies that make her cry. I prefer animated children’s movies and comedies. She stays up late, and sleeps through nearly every alarm. I can’t keep my eyes open past 10:30 and wake up before 7 am each day.

But it’s not these similarities or differences that brought us together, it’s the fact that we were both equally confused, terrified, and away from home for the first times in our life.

Both being the oldest in our households, this was a major life change, and she is even farther from her Illinois home than I am. It became obvious that in order to make it through the horrors of the first month of college, we would have to stick together.

And now, almost 500 miles away from her over Christmas break and four months later, I can’t stop thinking about our inside jokes, our late nights of laughter/gossip sessions, and the memories of all the trouble we caused over our first semester together.

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I am grateful for the way the Universe spins so specifically that two long-lost twin sisters (or identical robots) from Illinois and Nebraska can end up sharing a dorm in Kansas, and crossing paths to form an alliance so strong that if you mess with one Maddie, you get two to deal with.

 

Wholeheartedly,

Maddie

 

Physique: 12 DOG

Today, and most days, I am grateful for my hair, skin, eyelashes, fingernails, lungs, and my body in entirety. However, most days are not all days, and there was a time in my life were the bad days outnumbered the good.

Let me begin as a child, as all good “this is when it began” stories come to exist. I was a stout, round child, to put it nicely. I have talked about this before as well on this blog, because as a girl, this isn’t always what’s expected or accepted in society.

But what does an eight-year-old care what society standards falsely frown upon?

I only cared about where I could find my next snack, but my unhealthy snacking habits only lasted so long before my body came to a screeching and aching halt. It simply could not digest another McDonald’s french fry, and I became pretty sick. My skin was covered with acne, my hair and eyelashes were thinning, and my asthma was terrible. But the worst part was the never-ending abdominal pain.

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I am still recovering, and although my skin has cleared, my hair has become long, and my asthma has given me freedom, the stomach aches remain into my teenage/adult years. In an effort to rid the ailment, I tried several different dietary changes.

No meat. No meat, and no dairy. No meat, no dairy, no eggs. No meat, dairy, eggs, or gluten (bread, pasta, cupcakes?!). No meat, dairy, eggs, gluten, and of course, I haven’t eaten a peanut or tree nut since I became deathly allergic to them at age two..

All of this change and restriction threw me for quite the loop, but today I have found the perfect dietary solution, and yet I continue work on it constantly: just listening to my body. 

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It already knows what makes it feel anxious, achy, sick, or nauseous. It also knows what brings happiness, energy, and tranquility. There is no secret food, no recipe that cures the illness of being disconnected with one’s body.

These days, I’ve tried to improve this connection and communication, but it’s still a work in process. Between diet and exercise and stress and anxiety,  there is so much to be done, but I’ve already come so far from the unaware snack-loving child I once was. Today, I am thankful that I have built this body to resemble who Madeleine Rheinheimer is.

Yours truly,

Maddie

Flowers: 12 DOG

I am finally home for good (for a month, that is) from college, and I am writing this from my bedroom “office”. This office consists of a thirty-dollar Walmart desk, a stack of unfinished novels, and four jars of pens, pencils, highlighters, and a few gum wrappers.

This is where the creativity flows.

My desk is next to a window, and the shelf below it is now empty. However, at one time in my life when I lived here permanently, it was loaded with at least five pots of plants. As I’ve brought up before on this blog (https://illiterateblondes.com/2017/03/06/flowers-for-the-occasion/), I am a plant person. I am obsessed with succulents, aloe, ferns, cactus, you name it.

But when it comes to flowers? This category of plant is what gets me going. Today, on the fifth day of my series, I am going to talk about my appreciation for petals.

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Flowers represent so much to me, more than just a seed and some dirt. Flowers mean hope. You never know how big the tiny seed will grow, and the exact color it will bloom. Flowers mean devotion, because if you forget to water them (I have had many a mistake in this group), they shrivel up and leave you despairing over a pot of dry dust. Flowers mean renewal, because even when you think there is no chance or survival, somehow the leaves reappear in the spring.

Most of all, flowers mean love, forgiveness, and hope. A bouquet in the hands of the person you love more than anyone in the world somehow amplifies the volume of adoration. Flowers can represent an apology, an expression, or a prayer.

And you know what I’ve learned? Sometimes, you just have to buy the damn flowers for yourself. Don’t wait for someone else to show up on your doorstep with bunch of roses.

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Because you have the power to forgive yourself, show your love, and wish for a miracle with every last drop of ambition you can muster. In fact, you deserve that!

Even in the dead of winter, I am thankful that the universe gave us flowers, even if I sometimes forget to water them.

Sincerely,

Madeleine

Home: 12 DOG

When I brainstormed for today’s topic, I was thinking about the day I left for college. I was absolutely terrified, but so stressed out with trying to fit every last bag into the car that I didn’t even get the chance to take one last look at my childhood house as we drove away. Within a few weeks, after the attachment (which clung fiercely in the beginning) started to loosen its hold on me, and my home had become a dorm room.

On this fourth day of gratitude, I am taking the time to appreciate home, and what that means to me.

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Home is where my brother can be barefoot and the dog stays still for a picture.

For the longest time, I was overly fond of my house. In fact, I only had two sleepovers growing up. While all of my friends would gather nearly every weekend throughout primary school, I couldn’t bring myself to stay past 10 pm. It was as if a switch in me was programmed to only relax and feel comfortable in my own room with my own family at my own house. But I quickly began to feel the exclusion of being the only girl who called her mother when everyone began laying out their sleeping bags, and would wistfully listen to the stories from after the lights went out.

One night, determined not to be a “baby” anymore (I was probably in the fifth or sixth grade), I pushed through my uncomfortable doubts, and called my mother to tell her that I had made the decision to spend the night, and that I would see her in the morning. “Are you sure, honey?” She whispered, as if her super-power Mom ears could hear the fear in my voice. “Yes,” I said hesitantly, and hung up before the tears were set free.

I didn’t sleep but two hours that night, and lay awake shivering on the ground of a foreign bedroom which is still imprinted in my mind. My wandering eyes analyzed every inch of that damn room, and I forced myself to lay still the entire night, in hopes that the sun would rescue my poor despairing self.

Looking back at that homesick horror, and laying in a bed over three hours away from the home I grew up in, I realize that I was wrong.

When I cried all through the night, I wasn’t crying because I needed my physical house, with walls and carpet and a soft bed. I was crying because I needed my bedtime routine. I was crying because I needed my mom. I was crying because I needed the feeling of comfortable normality.

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Today, I understand now that the feeling of home doesn’t lie in Nebraska, or any other address on a map. Home is wherever I sense safety, comfort, routine, and love. Some days, I’ve found this most commonly exists where my parents and brothers and boyfriend is. And the others? I am my own home, because only I have the power to create the safety, comfort, routine, and love that I need.

I am at ease because of my outlook and my home, and I am thankful.

Truthfully,

Madeleine

Friendship: 12 DOG

Day three has brought me to something that I am most grateful for two reasons: advice and laughter. Today I am taking the time to acknowledge the people in my life who I am lucky enough to call a friend.

My girl friends are my source of sharing giggles, tears, good news, bad news, and lots of pizza. My guy friends just make me laugh. Friends have helped me overcome the fear of new places and new things, and taught me how to care for someone other than just yourself.

I began making friends as a toddler, because my mom enjoyed setting up playdates and playing Barbies and Princess dress up with a bunch of little girls. In elementary school, I quickly established my friend group, and even had people to sit with at lunch, despite having a special “allergy-friendly” table. This was one of the first times I understood sacrifice on a friendship level: my first-grade friends decided to eat turkey instead of peanut-butter sandwiches. Talk about a hard decision!

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Now, friendship typically goes through a strange stage in middle/high school, because everybody starts growing and changing and trying to fit in. In this time of adjustments and adapting, people need to focus on themselves and their own needs before they think about others. Therefore, some friends end up not staying friends, and just become “someone I used to know.” And that’s okay too.

In my first few years of upper education, I was forced to make new friends due to a new school. This in itself wasn’t the difficult part; I like meeting new people. The hard part was trying to blend in. As a new kid, it often feels like I missed every inside joke and didn’t know how to speak the language anymore. But I pushed onwards, and began creating the jokes and learning how to communicate.

Unfortunately in doing so, I lost communication with myself, and my family at times. I forgot that at the end of the day, the closest friend I would ever have is myself, and looking back, I really mistreated this person.

After a realization that I was neglecting the longest friendship I’d ever had, I decided that the only way I could escape the person I had become on the outside was to have a conversation with the person I had become on the inside.

Coaxing myself out of the hiding spot in my brain, I came to understand what I needed to succeed. I came to understand what I needed to freaking breathe. I had stuffed and suffocated myself into a corner for nearly four years just to make room for people who I don’t even talk to these days.

I cut off the toxic friendships I had conformed to, and I moved mental and physical locations. I fell into a group of people who made my final year of high school so full of joy that I laugh just remembering what was said and done. We have had many dance parties, girls nights, carpools, crafts, support sessions, and trips. We’ve helped each other make decisions, and get over the stress and sadness of senior year. More than a dozen of us even rented a house on a lake in the summer and spent a weekend together, and when I think of friendship, I think of this adventure.

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Today, I attend a college of 28,000 students. I’ve found it difficult to jump into a pool the size of an ocean and meet new people, but I’ve certainly been blessed with a few in the first semester (You know who you are, I am so thankful that you and I crossed paths).

In the end, I will never lessen myself again to meet the needs of a friendship that just doesn’t fit. And I am thankful for the countless friendships, laughs, and inside jokes that do.

Fully,

Madeleine

 

Sushi: 12 DOG

On this frosty second day of gratitude, I am taking the opportunity to express and appreciate something that isn’t even close to a secret: I love sushi.

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Now, I don’t love all sushi. I love raw sushi. It is authentic, genuine, and original. I’m not trying to criticize cooked sushi, but I think that’s the American version, and most people only eat it when it’s been fried.

Sushi can be intimidating, without a doubt. I have witnessed many timid first bites, and many mixed reactions. The seaweed can be daunting, and the rice isn’t like anything you’ve had before. And what’s on the inside can be even more scary: fish! I’ve been vegetarian, and I’ve been vegan, and thanks to these two periods in my life, meat and I just don’t sit well together. However, the one exception is salmon. I was raised eating the bright pink muscle, and taught how good it was for my growing brain. Mostly when I was younger, I just liked to lick off the seasoning my mom sprinkled over the cooked fish.  

As you may know, I am obsessed with being in control. Another reason me and sushi get along so great is that there are countless options! Sushi isn’t just raw fish wrapped in seaweed and rice, even though that’s what I prefer.

Sashimi is raw fish served alone with nothing else, ideal for those fish-loving fans. However, if you can’t handle that, the next best thing is Nigri. A topping of fish, served over rice, nigiri is best when raw, and ideal for people who appreciate the taste of fish, and also need a little rice to tone down the extreme seafood challenge. Maki is rice and filling (vegetable, cream cheese, fish, etc) wrapped in seaweed. This is what comes to mind when most think of sushi, and is easy to get creative and adventurous with the recipe.

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Yes, one of the sushi pieces is winking.

What is in all of the above? The meat may include tuna, crab, shrimp, salmon, eel, clam, squid, or octopus. The middle stuffing may include avocado, cream cheese, tempura, cucumber, and other assorted vegetables. Sushi typically comes with soy sauce for dipping (extra flavor), ginger for adding spice and zest, and wasabi for stirring into the soy sauce (DO NOT EAT RAW. You will cry and drink water until the tears stop, which may be never. Steer clear of the green wasabi if it’s your first time.)

Honestly, I just really love this food, and giving a lesson on my lifestyle blog about fish is worth it. I simply had to include it in my 12 DOG series, and I hope it inspires you to try something new this holiday season. Give me a call and I’d be there to help you through the process. Happy feasting, all.

Yours sincerely,

Madeleine

 

(Just for a reference of a credible source and not just an obsessed nineteen year old blonde girl:  https://delishably.com/meat-dishes/The-Different-Kinds-of-Sushi)

Education: 12 DOG

Hello all, and happy December. It is the final month of the year, and 2017 has taught me so many things. Besides the fact that I really miss Obama and Vine, 2017 also enlightened me to a few things. I ate a lot of sushi, traveled, and met my new best friend. And especially at the time of another year ending, I find myself reminiscing on the past just as much as I plan for the future.

The title of this series is “12 Days of Gratitude” or (12 DOG, more conveniently), because I have far too many blessings than I deserve.

Day 1 is a reflection upon my gratitude toward the education I’ve received/will be receiving someday.

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I began learning from a television show called “Baby Mozart” around eight months old. I can still recall details of this show, which featured shapes and orchestra music. My mom was very attentive to the likes of this program, because it was rumored to stimulate growth in the brains of babies.

I’d like to imagine that it somehow worked.

I was sent to a private pre-school 25 minutes from my home called the “Gingerbread House.” This place was the freaking best! I remember bawling my eyes out and reaching towards my departing mother, but as soon as I was allowed to play inside the doll house, all my tears were wiped away with glitter and dress up clothes.

I learned how to interact with other children, and also how to become the teacher’s favorite student. In fact, I know a few of my pre-school teachers read this blog! I’d like to take a moment to thank them for teaching me fifteen years ago how to use my attitude for good, rather than evil.

My brothers don’t always agree with this.

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All artwork of the series will be my own.

I went to an elementary school that was two driving and 12 walking minutes from my house, and this was only a blessing. My mother ate lunch with me frequently, and every time she drove past the school, she would honk rapidly. It was a reminder that she was always near when I needed her, and writing this from 200 miles away is quite the bummer.

I received a secondary education and degree from a Catholic school that saved me from the toxicity of mid-teenage years, and a place I was deeply unhappy. Here, I made new friends, studied religion, and overcame the challenges of high school. I am especially grateful for this school because of the countless doors it opened and horizons it broadened for my future.

Today, I am attending a university in Lawrence, Kansas, and study English and Creative writing, with a minor in Art History. College education is certainly different than any past experience I’ve had, simply because it comes with so much freedom. No one is forcing me to do homework or even attend class, but yet I do it anyways because I am so darned happy to be here.

I think it’s mostly because I love learning.

I don’t know where or when I’ll continue my education, but I have so much desire and passion towards learning that I know I’d take night classes online if I had to. I am very grateful for my past education, and the opportunity that each school and program has given me.

Whether I learn from my teachers, my peers, or simply from my mistakes, I am thankful either way.

Truly,

Madeleine

 

How Are You?

Being that I (still) don’t know many people here in college, it always catches me off guard when someone stops to ask “how are you?”

“Good,” I reply quickly, a conditioned response. “How are you?” I never quite listen all the way through to their answer, partly because it’s the same as mine and partly because I just lied. Again.

Because believe it or not, I’m not “good”. I’m anxious a lot of the time, about scenarios that never happen. That doesn’t deter my anxiety though.

I’m not “okay”. I miss my family and my dogs and my boyfriend and my shower and my old friends.

I’m not “just fine”. There are days when I get so discouraged, I actually convince myself that having a career as a writer is a myth- just a hobby, not a job.

I’m not “alright”. The government is corrupt, the media is a scam, and the news makes me feel sick to my stomach and light in the head.

I’m not “dandy”. I’m stressed about school and grades and credits and finals and exams and quizzes and homework.

I’m not “doing well”.  I am living life with a satisfied attitude, and damn it, that’s not good enough for me. I deserve more than satisfaction. I deserve euphoria, bliss, and consistent love.

How am I? Not “good”, that’s for sure.

But I will continue to lie to anyone who asks, partly because it’s what’s expected of us, and partly because I’ve never admitted any other answer. Maybe someday I’ll be able to give a response that I mean, a deliberate reaction, even if that isn’t what the world wants to hear.

That’s the honest reality, and until then, I’m doing just fine.

 

Truthfully yours,

Madeleine Rheinheimer

 

19 in 19: Summary

I am currently reeling in the events of the weekend, and the entire month of November. I began my series the day before the first of the month, and now that it’s nearly over and the series has ended, I am reminded once again how quickly life sneaks away. The individual hours may seem long (in class or at work especially), but the days as a whole move at a breakneck pace that keeps me gasping for air while running uphill.

I do my best to slow down and breathe, but it’s easier said than done. Isn’t everything? My series helped me feel more connected, more in control of the frantic speed of nineteen years, which isn’t that long compared to some of you. There are folks out there who have way more experience and way more knowledge than my little young self, and I am grateful for these people. In this series alone, I’ve gained 50+ more readers, and I am thankful for each and every one.

I want to be revolutionary, and I want to create something that matters. And in my nineteenth year, I hope to do that.

Below is the list of my series, and I’d like to thank all photographers and contributors, and everyone who has helped along the way, with their patience and teachings.

  1. Focused Intentionality
  2. Junk Removal
  3. Boldly Assertive
  4. Work with Worry
  5. Traveling (Outlook vs View)
  6. Ask for Help
  7. Birdwatching and Other Hobbies
  8. Stably Saving & Spending
  9. Read More
  10. Stop Comparing
  11. Feed Your Soul
  12. Beware Energy Vampires
  13. PopTart Cakes (Healthy vs Happy)
  14. Internal Home
  15. The Little Things
  16. All Around Balance
  17. Self Discovery
  18. Alone Time
  19. Trust the Universe

Here’s to the nineteenth journey.

Best,

Madeleine Rheinheimer

19 in 19: Trust the Universe

Well. Today is it. I have been planning for nearly twenty-something days for this moment, but actually if I’m honest, I’m unprepared.

I’m not ready to turn nineteen.

I’m not ready to grow up.

I’m not ready to start my second semester of college, move into my own apartment, and make noodles and casseroles and brownies.

But I didn’t think I was ready last year either. There’s just something about birthday’s and me that always leave me feeling a little on the edge and underprepared. Looking back over my collective nineteen years, I’m starting to put two and two together that life likes to keep the fast pace, whether I’m ready or not.IMG_8930

Now, nineteen years isn’t a significantly special number to me or the universe for any reason other than I made it another year. Twenty means I’ve been revolving for two full decades, so maybe I’ll feel more impressed for that. Like I said though, this whole thing isn’t about numbers or ages or cakes or ballots, or even myself. This is about having enough faith in the next day, the next month, and the next year to look forward to your future.

The last lesson I want to share with you on my nineteenth trip around the sun is to trust the universe.

Last year at this time, I didn’t know where I would even be living. I didn’t know who would still be in my life, and who I’d meet along the road. I didn’t know if I’d get to see my family often, or what my bedroom would look like. I didn’t know if I’d be social and go our much, or want to eat healthy.

And the worst of all, last year at this time, I didn’t know if I’d still be able to write. Because I’ll let you in on a little secret fear of mine: my writing scares me. It makes me very different from the other nineteen year olds, but I’m glad that it does, and that isn’t why I’m afraid. It scares me because I’m worried there’s been some mistake… how did I end up with this ability? Why me? Some days I am sure that when the universe introduced me to this muse*, did they switch up some letters? My name can be confusing, and that must be the reason for the mistake.

But other days, I can confidently take the reins and let my fingers fly across the keyboard because the muse has something to say. This gift chose me for a special purpose, and will not remains silent when the words must be said.

So my trust in the universe (and my muse) has developed over the last nineteen years, and is still growing. I am hoping that by this time next year, at age twenty, maybe that trust will be strong and stable and sturdy.

But until then, I’ll remain in this in-between age, because I don’t have any other choice but forward. I can remember all of these lessons and memories and messages, and I will remember them. But I trust the universe to guide me towards the new ones too.

 

Faithfully,

Madeleine Rheinheimer

*https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muses