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21’s a magical age, filled with adventure, successes, frustrations, growth, uncertainty, and having endless possibilities in front of you. It’s that age where you’ve got to start acting more adult-like, paying more bills, and begin really getting your stuff together; but you’re also young enough to still do totally crazy, spontaneous things and have it be okay.

With it being my last week as a 21 year-old, I’ve compiled a list of 21 little epiphanies I’ve had this past year.

1. Embrace that life will never be perfect. – Love life anyway.

2. Your life = Your own timeline – What everyone else is doing is irrelevant to your life path. So what if it’s taking you longer than expected to finish college, or if statistics say the average marriage age is 28? There is no one right or wrong set timeline in life. God’s timing is different for everyone, so don’t even stress!

3. When you’ve found an answer-your-call-in-the-middle-of-the-night, there-in-the-good-times-and-bad, makes-you-laugh-til-you’ve-got-a-six-pack, then-gets-dessert-with-you-at-2-am, lovingly honest, loyal, prayerful, iron-sharpens-iron kind of friend…TREASURE them with everything you’ve got! These rare gems are the friends your kids will call “auntie”/”uncle” someday.

4. Wherever you are, be all there. – Don’t waste moments living in past ones, worrying about future ones, or living vicariously through others’ on your social media feed. Live and experience EVERY moment FULLY. Be in love with the here & now.

5. If it’s raining, blast your music and drive with the moonroof open for a little bit. – Trust me on this one.

6. Alone time with God is the source of life. – Hands down, most important thing. It’s in prayer and through His Word that He’ll speak to your heart, reveal his incredible plans for your life, guide you through each day, comfort you, show you what real love looks like…I could go on forever. A relationship with Him is why we exist.

7. Dance! – In a tasteful way. Who cares what you look like? It’s fun and liberating.

8. Class goes a long way. – To the women who are strong, polite, selfless, ambitious, kind, intelligent, know who they are, and what they deserve…To the women who keep their assets clothed to let their dignity shine, who still believe in playing a little hard-to-get, who walk with confidence and grace…cheers to you! Honestly, dressing skimpy, throwing ourselves at guys, and being sloppy drunk are so cliché. Ladies, we’re better than that!

9. This is the time to figure out who you are and who you want to become. – What are you passionate about? Where do you want to travel to? Where do you want to live? What kind of personality do you have? This is a time to establish yourself; to get an idea of the direction you want to head in; to build a firm foundation of independence, and to develop yourself into someone you’ll be proud to be for the rest of your life.

10. Life’s not just about the destination, but the process of getting there.

11. Each person is like a treasure chest waiting to be opened. – We’re all human. Everyone we come in contact with has a unique story, heart full of ideas, and set of perspectives to share. Have REAL conversations with friends, the people at work, the person sitting next to you in class, that stranger waiting behind you in line…why not?

12. Some days you’ll feel like this is the most social time of your life, other days it’ll feel like the loneliest, and that is OKAY.

13. Worrying is a waste of time.

14. Take LOTS of pictures.

15. Comparison kills – You’re a masterpiece. You’re on your own life path. You’re gifted with your own unique abilities, passions, appearance, personality, and purpose. Focusing on others causes you to miss out on what’s right in front of you. Your Creator doesn’t compare you to anyone else, so why should you?

16. Hold out for your soulmate. – Love when you’re ready, not when you’re lonely.

17. Spontaneous trips to wherever are good for the soul.

18. When in doubt, go out. – We all have those nights…”Like half of me wants to go to that [event/hangout/whatever], but the other half wants to hang out on my couch.” GO OUT. You’ll remember great times with people, not the nights you got extra sleep.

19. Be proactive. – Being an adult takes initiative. Opportunities don’t typically fall into your lap. Make sure you’re taking the right classes, apply for that job you want, initiate new friendships, save money, take steps toward making your dreams reality.

20. Inspire everyone around you. – Leave each person better than they were before crossing your path.

21. You’re either living for the weekend, or living for a purpose. – You can either be that 21 year-old who is partying their life away, spending most nights drunk, and constantly chasing “fun.” Or you can be that 21 year-old who is driven, ambitious, focused on making big dreams a reality, and making a lasting impact on the world. We’re all equipped with the same amount of time and capacity to make the world a better place; don’t waste that power, maximize it.

22. Life is waiting outside the confines of your comfort zone. – If you never try, you’ll never know. Dreaming seemingly impossible dreams reflects an incredible amount of faith in God’s limitless power. Fear has no right to stand in the way of what could possibly be the best decision of your life.

Okay, so there were 22, bonus! This has truly been an incredible year. I pray that whatever age you are, you’re enjoying your life to the absolute fullest. Praying blessings over anyone who may be reading this!

Well, 21, you did me well. Here’s to a new year of feelin’ twentytwooo (cue Taylor Swift)!

Love,
Angela

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The crisp, chilly evening air feels strikingly refreshing as it meets the droplets of sweat on my skin. As I’m writing this while swinging on my favorite patio chair, I’m catching my breath and letting the fall wind cool me down after a run. A what?! Yes, I, Angela Manzanares, just went for a run. This monumental occurrence has actually been going on frequently for almost a month now.

For those that know me, you know that this is just a flat-out MIRACLE. I have always HATED running! In high school P.E. I came up with every possible, believable excuse to get out of “Mile Mondays.” Aerobics? Fine! Bike riding? Love it. Elliptical? Yes! But actual, real-life, intentional running, like outside? Can’t remember the last time I did it.

But I’m about to turn 22, and I feel like it’s time to start treating my body the way it deserves to be treated.

I can feel my metabolism starting to slow down;
I was feeling like my pants had been fitting a little more snug lately;
My Starbs addiction will probably be the death of me;
And my constant, on-the-go, busy-all-day, stay-up-super-late, dessert-at-midnight, busy-busy-busy kind of lifestyle just cannot be healthy!

It’s been about three weeks now since the day I first decided to start running a few times a week. It was a Wednesday, my day off from work. I woke up early (for me on a day-off that’s 8:15), put my hair up, my hot pink & gray running shoes on, and just went outside and started moving my feet kinda fast on the sidewalk. I played some of my favorite high-energy songs that made me want to dance, and I jogged around the block.

I took in the fresh air, admired the beautiful red, yellow, and green trees all around my neighborhood, and partied! Of course, my throat started to burn towards the end, and I was super out of breath, but the point is, I did something.

And you know what? It was the first time I actually (dare I say it??) ENJOYED running.

I’m def not saying this as one big high-five to myself, but hopefully to share with you what helped me get up and go.

I stumbled upon a simple, yet powerfully mind-shifting little statement on Instagram or Pinterest or something (SO wish I could remember where, exactly!) that said,

“You don’t have to be a ‘runner’ to run.”

We see all these pictures everywhere of totally fit girls and cut guys working out, or friends posting their cross-fit videos all over, and it personally has made me think to myself, “Omg, I’ve got school, I’ve got a job, I have friends, family, I mentor high schoolers, I have my own little business, sleep is nice every now and then, oh yeah and eating, too, when there’s time…I honestly can’t devote my life to working out like they do. I guess I’ll just have to accept that I’ll never be one of those super fit people.”

So we get intimidated to even start working out.

But guess what…
You don’t have to be an expert.
You don’t have to have a fancy gym membership.
You don’t have to set up an extreme fitness plan.
You don’t even have to own real workout clothes.

Just make a playlist of your favorite songs really quick, and go run off all your worries, clear your head, breathe in some fresh air, burn off some unwanted fat, and tone up your muscles, all at the same time!

You might not like the out-of-breath feeling, you won’t see results immediately after, and you’ll probably be sore tomorrow, but GO YOU!!!!

You WILL see results if you stick with it;
you’ll be spoiling your body with some much-needed attention; and you’ll feel really, really proud of yourself after.

Looks aren’t a strong enough motivation to work out, however. We get frustrated when we don’t “see” any changes right away, which causes many of us to give up on exercising shortly after just beginning. And let’s face it, eventually we’re all going to be old and wrinkly one day. I think basing the foundation of our efforts on something as temporary as the aesthetics of our ever-changing bodies is not a sustainable enough focus. But the idea of lengthening my life with every run…knowing that I’m enhancing my blood chemistry and steering myself away from some diseases…training myself to develop positive, life-long habits…feeling stronger mentally…and boosting confidence…THESE are what I’ve found to be lasting motivators for myself, personally.

So exercise to be healthy.

Do it because you are already beautiful. Do it because you deserve it. Do it because your body will thank you for it now, and for the rest of your life. Do it so you can pass these habits onto your kids someday. Do it because something is better than nothing.

So now that you’re done reading this, go for it!!! If I, of all people, can do it, that means you definitely can too. 🙂 Lace up your running shoes; let’s do this together!!

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
1 Corinthians‬ ‭6‬:‭19-20‬

Love,
Angela

Heartbroken, disillusioned, confused, and experiencing about a dozen other emotions at the time, I wrote this piece back in September of 2013, about a month after ending a 3 year relationship with a great guy. I recently read over it again, edited some parts, and felt like it’d be encouraging to share, as we all face obstacles at one time or another. It was one of the most challenging times of my life thus far, but with it, came the most incredible & rewarding growing opportunities of my life that helped shape me into who I am today. Looking back, I can confidently say that hope guides you out of the darker times and into a bright, joyful new season!

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September 12, 2013
1:15 am

Hope (noun):
Grounds for believing that something good may happen; A feeling of trust
(Oxford Dictionary).

A pessimistic mind guards up his or her heart because of past hurt, focuses on the problems of today, and makes these circumstances even bigger than the fresh start of tomorrow. An optimistic heart learns from the past, finds joy in today, and is excited for the bright hope in the future.

Life’s a crazy thing, isn’t it? It can all be going smoothly one day, and then BOOM, out of nowhere we’re faced with challenges, obstacles, heartbreak, loneliness, illness, losing a loved one…the list goes on.
Sometimes life just slips the rug out from beneath us, right where we’re standing.

We get tripped up, we fall over, we get knocked down.

Will you give these circumstances the power to keep you down, or will you brush off the dust and get back up again, but stronger this time?

Sometimes life sends you in the complete opposite direction of someone you love. Sometimes the hard thing to do and the right thing are the same. Regardless, I never fully understood depression until I felt it myself through this breakup. There have been tough days, but it’s the refusal to stay down that lifts me back up.

We’re all faced with heartache and hardships at some point, but will you let it control you? Will you let the current challenge be too much to handle, or will you smile because you know that better days are to come?

You see, hope keeps us going. That trust in knowing that everything WILL work out for the best. If your heart hurts, time will heal it. If today seems tough, put a smile on and keep fighting. Find blessings in each day, and know that tomorrow’s gifts far outweigh today’s challenges.

“We know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Romans 8:28

Love,
Angela

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Hi friend, glad you’re here!

Words are powerful things, huh?
They possess the power to deeply penetrate our hearts to the core. To destroy, to influence, to inspire.

Words are some of my favorite things, and with that, I’ve found writing to be one of my favorite means of transferring what’s in my mind into the external world.

So with it being 2014 and all, I’m starting a blog! I’ve been journaling and pouring my life out on paper for as long as I can remember, so I’m finally deciding to share my experiences with you and whoever else reads this.

There’s something so encouraging about transparency, and knowing that we’ve all actually got lots in common. So as I’m living & adventuring through my life, you’re totally invited to come with, and learn along with me!

So this marks the beginning of a collection of my thoughts, life lessons learned, health tips, and whatever else my little heart desires to write about.

My prayer is that each of my words would be like a little dose of hope, inspiring and uplifting to the soul.

 So yay, let’s do this, I’m SO excited for what’s to come!

Love,
Angela