Say Goodnight to the Bad Guy: Life Lessons from Scarface (really.)

The thing about time, I’m learning, is how fast it goes by, completely ignoring your goals or presuppositions for the week. Today may be Monday, the day you mourn the weekend’s quick demise, but yet the way everything has been going lately, I swear you blink twice and it’s Friday.

Over the weekend, I watched Scarface (the 1983 version) for the first time and I was really struck by a scene that’s honestly not like THE major part of the movie, but man, I keep thinking about it. Towards the end of the (three hour) movie, Tony Montana is sitting at a extremely formal, high class restaurant with his wife and best friend. If you’ve never seen Scarface, a little backstory: Tony has BASICALLY lived the American dream. Came from Cuba on a boat,  started washing dishes and is now the ultra rich druglord of Miami. (I mean, that’s everyone’s American dream, I’m assuming.) He has it all: the woman he pined after, the money and lifestyle that comes with the money, the power, lots of cocaine (although “don’t get high on your own supply”), all of it. In this super fancy restaurant filled with old people, Tony comes to a really interesting and surprising realization:


Cue malaise.

“Is this it? Is this all that it’s about? Eating, drinking, snorting…is this all that I worked for? With these hands? Is that what I killed for [Okay, he’s not the BEST role model/one at all] …is this how it ends? And I thought I was a winner?”

While Scarface is probably THE least likely place to get a life lesson other than “Don’t do any of these things ever,” not going to lie, I was totally moved by this scene.

Sometimes I think you have those “restaurant scenes in Scarface” moments in life when you can somehow see a glimpse into what the future of your life path looks like. And maybe that’s a good forecast! But for me, Chronic Overthinker, it’s so easy to get caught up in the negative potentials and then spiral from there into what I consider the WORST future: being stuck in a mediocre life too far gone (or too painful)  for change. Especially with time moving so fast.

But I’ve over-thought my way to a conclusion: Yeah, habits and choices change our lives (like choosing to get into the Miami drug business), but maybe it’s never too late to change. Maybe it’s never too late, once you’ve seen the potential future path you’re on, to turn around. Because maybe that thing that you’re afraid of has already happened to you, as Elizabeth Gilbert writes.  And maybe only the boringly mediocre care about not being mediocre–everyone else is too busy living to care. Life lesson tl;dr: I want to be in that latter group, not in the same boat as Tony Montana.

Living Mindfully (versus Monastically)

So, three weeks or so ago, I read the book “7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess” and felt compelled to reduce my own major area of excess, my closet, by around 25%. I ended up giving away 58 items of clothes and shoes, which was an awesome start.

I was explaining all this to someone I work with and I realized that it sounded a little crazy and extreme–so I’m going to explain my motives a little more. This isn’t about punishing myself for the privilege that I have received by living in a first world country. I mean, since the experiment last month, I’ve purchased three more pairs of shoes (which I needed for work, as I got a full time job in the time in between.)

I’m not trying to live monastically, but mindfully.

Mindful of the true cost of that cheap item I’m buying–of the child labor, the trafficking, the injustice that just isn’t worth the money.  Mindful of the fact I don’t need most of the things I buy. Mindful of the responsibility that I have as someone whose voice has not been silenced by oppression or because of desperation.

I can speak with my money and my purchases.

That’s a great thing about money–you can use it to better your own life, sure, but when you have the ability to help others, wouldn’t you?

Check out Kiva, a non-profit loan organization that does SO much good around the world. For $25 (aka one shirt at Target), you can sponsor a loan to a budding entrepreneur around the world. You are empowering them and helping them create sustainability in their lives & communities. Plus, you get repaid, so it’s really the easiest way to help someone ever.

My words are nothing compared to all the injustice happening in the world. I just hope to be on the side of justice rather than convenience and ease.

Out of (my) Closet


I own 173 items of clothing. One hundred and seventy three dresses, skirts, pants, shirts, blazers–and that’s not even counting winter clothes. Oh, and twenty two pairs of shoes.


(If you’re curious, the average American woman apparently has 90 items in her closet, but apparently, I go big or go home.)

Over the weekend, I read “7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess” by Jen Hatmaker, which I seriously recommend. The author outlines seven areas of excess & eliminates each for one month. The book absolutely wrecked my thinking on excess and waste. I complain about the lack of money in my life, but honestly, I think it’s just because I’ve been wasting it!

I mean, clearly, I just have to take a look at my closet at my 173 items of clothes and 22 pairs of shoes to know that’s true. I love thrift shopping and the thrill of the cheap purchase, but who am I kidding, usually the novelty of the price lasts longer than my actual interest in the item. I’ve always enjoyed fashion and style (throwback to when I was a fashion columnist for my university’s newspaper) but this is ridiculous. I could clothe 5 women plus me with all the things I own and never wear.

So many people go without proper clothing or shoes–how can I be so greedy? When I was in Mexico this past June, I learned that those who are homebound and cannot work sell whatever clothing they can find as their sole income–something I seriously take for granted as I peruse my closet and have “nothing to wear.” My “trash” could be someone else’s lifeline.

As Jen Hatmaker wrote, “I’m tired of calling the suffering “brothers and sisters” when I’d never allow my biological siblings to suffer likewise. That’s just hypocrisy veiled in altruism. I won’t defile my blessings by imagining I deserve them.” 

I don’t need or deserve to have a huge wardrobe. So, I’m reducing my wardrobe by 25%–that means giving away nearly 50 items of clothing or shoes. I’m not sure if I’ll hold a block party garage sale & donate the money, clothing swap, or just donate them to a ministry, but I’m doing something!

Stay tuned! (I need the public accountability!) Anyone want to join in?

Wei zeg dice what?: A Non-Expert’s Theory on Love

I choose to believe the people there were just as ’80’s fab as they are depicted here.

(I didn’t mean to start writing again, but it’s just kind of happening and I’m going with it. I kind of reverse-psychologized (totally not a word…) myself by saying I wasn’t writing anymore this summer, but as F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote himself (and yes, I’m being THAT person by quoting someone else): “You don’t write because you want to say something. You write because you have something to say.” And everyone kept telling me to write about this, so…) 

Love is a lot like the Tower of Babel. Or at least, I think is probably is.

In the story of the Tower of Babel (a less colloquial version can be found in Genesis 11), everyone was chilling out, speaking the same language, & working on a big real estate project, when BAM. God was like “Nope.” He confused everyone’s language so that everyone was speaking different dialects and nobody could understand one another and then He scattered everyone across the world. That’s how we got the name “Babel,” which is similar to the Hebrew word “balel” (“to jumble.”)

Can you imagine how utterly confusing that would have been? One second, you’re hanging with your friends building a tower and then the next, you’re speaking English, someone else is speaking Cantonese, and yet another person is next to you speaking Arabic (or whatever…just go with the metaphor.) I cannot imagine the feeling of panic and isolation as you (and everyone else around you) cannot communicate with one another. Can you imagine the relief and security when you finally meet someone who understands what you’re saying?

I kind of think love is the same way.

Love is finding someone who speaks your language.

Everyone speaks a different dialect or language and we’re kind of scattered all across the world looking for others who understand us. And it’s not easy! For some, maybe there’s only a few people in the entire world who speak your same language. Maybe others have a more widely spoken dialect, so it’s easier to find someone who speaks the same language. I don’t believe in a soul mate, but I do think that for some people, there’s a smaller amount of possibilities than for others.

And maybe those are the types of people who settle. Maybe people get tired of wandering around, looking for someone to understand what they’re saying. Maybe they find someone who brokenly speaks a little bit of their language, like Spanglish, and decide that this is better than waiting more.

Love isn’t an accomplishment. It’s something that happens, in whatever length of time that it happens to take. Long or short, trust the process.

Or at least, that’s what I plan to do. And to quote yet another author, J.R.R. Tolkien, “Not all who wander are lost [or desperate.]”


Why does God have to pull “Aladdin” moments?

I love when things go perfectly ( aka perfectly my way). Don’t try to deny it, you do too.

Oscar Wilde might have said that “There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.”….but reallyyy, is he one to talk? Looking back, there have been things (and relationships, let’s be honest) I’m so glad didn’t work out but that’s hindsight, y’all. When you’re in the moment and you have a “perfect vision” of what you want, it’s really hard to give it all up. 

So I don’t know about you, but I really don’t like when God pulls an “Aladdin.” No, He doesn’t turn me from a street urchin into a princess or even give me a pet monkey (I would definitely prefer a pet raccoon a la “Pocahontas,” hope you all are taking notes on this); I’m talking about those really annoying moments when God interrupts and stops me from doing my own thing with my own (perfectly arranged) timeline and asks “Do you trust me?”


I mean…yes? No? Mostly yes? Soft no?

I DO trust God. He has been so faithful to me and He really, really loves me a lot. I have a million examples of the Lord’s goodness in my life. His plans always end up blowing mine out of the water. But…waiting for them to happen is hard.

It’s hard to trust God when you feel lonely. Or if your plan seems like the best/only option you can see. Or if you’re tired of waiting around. (Or if you’re turning 23 soon and could’ve SWORN things would be different by now.)

Habakkuk 2:3 reminds me to be a tad more patient: “For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.” Unfortunately God’s timing isn’t like a 30 minute sitcom, where the problem is neatly solved by the third commercial break. 

And you know how I feel about answers: I hate writing something that addresses an issue yet isn’t practically seeking out answers. I think Psalms 37:3, the verse right before the frequently quoted (and hard to define) “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart”, really does help: Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.” 

Befriend Faithfulness: I love this wording (ESV y’all.) I want to be faithful in the little tiny things, so God can entrust me to be faithful in the BIG stuff. And you know, maybe that’s why God tells us (okay, ME) no & asks me to trust Him and wait.

Maybe I’m not ready yet…but I’m almost there (hopefully. Dang.)


Okay, I just have to share because I LOVE the feeling of making something cute, sustainable, and like fifty times cheaper than purchasing it.

I never, ever wear bikinis because usually the tops are like two tiny triangles of nothingness and that just doesn’t work for me. There’s so little fabric & coverage that I’d be better off sewing two potholders together or something. And bathing suits that actually are fitted cost upwards of way too much money.

A month ago, I found the cutest ever bathing suit top online (From this website, if you’re curious). It was absolutely perfect for me–retro, fitted to my bra size rather than the dumb XS-XL model, and on sale for $17. Whattt. I had to buy it.

I also wanted to find high waisted bottoms to go with the retro feel of the top, but alas. They’re kind of tricky to find. My dream pair was from ModCloth, but it was SO expensive. I couldn’t see myself spending nearly $60 on bathing suit bottoms. So I decided to change that, thanks to a trip to the fabric store.
Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 10.57.43 AMModcloth version: $57

My version: $36 ($2 for supplies plus $34 for actual bottoms)



And yes, they’re even cuter than the ModCloth ones (in my opinion). I am the master of sewing now.

Graduation Revisited: a Letter to 2013 Me

So I’m totally “Back to the Future”-ing this: I present to you the letter of advice I would give my past self upon my graduation from college one year ago today. Feel free to add in the comments the advice you would give your past self at graduation–because why not? 

Dear May 4, 2013 Kelsy,

First off, writing letters to yourself is super weird. Let’s power through this and never, ever do it again.

Here are things you should know a year after graduating college:

  • You are still kind of sad you never TRULY got to make a “May the 4th be with you joke” during graduation. Some wounds never heal.
  • Friendships, man. It’s so funny to see who sticks in your life and who doesn’t. Get ready to become really close to some friends who were just acquaintances before & be prepared for awkward bouts of silences that eventually fade into total white noise with other friends. Relationships are cyclical. Just love the best you can & don’t get offended at the drop of the hat when a friendship season ends. Sometimes it just does!
  • Get ready to find “post grad inspiration” from the weirdest sources…like “The Hobbit”? What?
  • Your self-worth is based on so much more than what people can see about you.
  • So, you know how you were so mad you weren’t asked to speak at graduation? It literally does not mean anything to you ever again past May 6, 2013. Like, I’m totally side-eyeing you right now for being so weirdly fixated on the stupidest stuff.

May 4, 2014 me judging you a little.

  • Also, literally EVERYTHING you said you “would never in a million years ever do” has happened to you. Yeah, you now live in Pennsylvania and work with your parents.
  • You break your foot. It kind of sucks/devastates your life for a really, really long time and in fact, current May 4, 2014 me is still not quite sure why it happened, but it weirdly becomes a very defining life event post-graduating. (Just be careful around stairs, okay?)
  • Real life is really, truly difficult. Those indie folk singers were right all along, as it turns out. But literally everyone is going through the same thing–you aren’t alone in the struggle. Community reveals itself in the most unusual ways.
  • Contrary to advice I was given by a professor.YOU DO NOT HAVE TO HAVE EVERYTHING FIGURED OUT IN THE NEXT 3 YEARS POST-GRADUATION. That is a big fat lie.There’s no timeline of “supposed to.” Give yourself grace.
  • Connections are awesome, but you don’t have to say yes to everything…or say yes in order to be nice.
  • Keep reading, keep searching, keep learning. As Walt Whitman wrote, “I tramp the perpetual journey.” (So do you!)

XOXO May 4, 2014 Kelsy