The Mess of Life


Greetings from NY! I figured I should write a blog post while I’m on spring break. It’s sad and strange that I don’t automatically think to write a blog post in my spare time anymore. This blog means so much to me, but I feel it slipping through the cracks (JK it slipped through the cracks, like, 6 months ago).

This blog has evolved as I have evolved as a person. I still have great interest in food and fitness, but there are simply (or rather, less simply) more things to which I need to direct my attention and energy in this season of life.

One of those things is academics. Things are still busy, but now that the great learning curve of my first graduate semester has passed, PT school has become a bit more exciting, and I have yet to approach the brink of despair (*overdramatized for effect*) as I did last semester. I also completed a 6-week, part-time clinical in a long term acute care hospital, which I loved (not just because I got to wear scrubs aka the work-acceptable pajamas). It’s all still hard work, but I’d be worried if it wasn’t so.

could be worse

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Academics is 50% of life. The other 50% is just this wild freakin’ ride that my heart and soul are on right now. It’s like one of those rickety wooden rollercoasters (actually my fave kind) that have superb thrill factor but could also snap and break at any moment.

There is only so much I am willing to share about this roller coaster of my life, but overall, I have learned a lot.

I’ve learned about what is too much for my heart to handle.

I’ve learned about what makes my heart truly joyful and at peace.

I’ve learned how to be honest with myself regarding both of those things.

I’ve learned that I make so many mistakes over and over again, despite having good intentions.

I’ve learned about my weaknesses and what I really need from others.

I’ve learned about my strengths and what I can give to others.

I’ve learned to find the good in others, but also to put down my foot when others are not good for me.

I’ve learned that it is better to find beauty in pain than to find pain in what seems beautiful on the surface.

I’ve learned to be okay with all of the above, because life is a MESS. A. Darn. Mess. That’s my word of the year so far, and I’m okay with that.

I’ve learned that God is here in this mess and that I don’t have to run away from it all. He never changes and reminds me always that He has never abandoned me and He never will. He is faithful, and He makes all things new.

And on top of all that/to change subject, my best friend is engaged (and she asked me to be her maid of honor AHHHH)!!!

Rachel visited NY for spring break earlier this week too! It was nice to spend time with the bride-to-be. Truly just having heart to heart conversations from morning ’til night.

I also co-directed the Catholic Center retreat this semester with my friend Austin, so that was a doozy. But more than anything, it was a wonderful and humbling experience. The theme was “beauty through humility and obedience,” which I suggested in the first place, but I didn’t realize how much I personally needed that message this semester until we were on retreat.

hearts that are His #retreat #totustuus

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Me: “What’s something we both like to do?” ➔ Austin: “Uhhh, work out?” ➔ Me: “Okay, we shall flex.”


the seniors ♥ 


Sarah, a source of peace and joy


sums up my friendship with Janice (so much love and appreciation for her)


the killer retreat team


“More tortuous than all else is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it? I, the LORD, alone probe the mind and test the heart…”

— Jeremiah 17: 9-10

^^^Too true.

Alive and well. Breathing and smiling. Failing and learning. Praying and growing.

My mess is minuscule compared to others’ messes, but it’s all one big Jackson Pollock painting — pretty cool in the end.

So tell me:

About the mess in your life.

Something new you did this past month!



Dear Alison… {A Look Back at 2015}

The last three days of 2015 have been going out with a bang, I’d say!

Some good food for the body…


Some good food for the soul…


dinner at my aunt and uncle’s house


banana peach green tea slush in a BOWL (they know what’s right)

Some more Christmas cheer…


my lovely family caroling for senior citizens


talented gingerbread house designers

Some “big kid” fun in blizzard weather…


smiling through the pain of freezing rain blowing into our faces


delicious chicken taco because I was hangry waiting for ramen


“sakepolitan” (alcoholic cranberry lime juice, essentially)


ramen that hit. the. spot.

And lots of baby cuddling…

cwvDm9asA3Lw9bOGQfl5esWDJpA cwvDm9asA_Lw9YsGTQNy8vWzhk4

photo creds to my uncle!

We also did yoga and bouldering yesterday! I felt like I was in Boulder, CO with all their fit, hip, and healthy citizens. It was a fun day!

Since today is the last day of 2015, I feel obliged to reflect on 2015 with my second annual letter-to-self. So without further ado, here are month-by-month letters to Alison (myself), highlighting the moments that made this year a beautiful and transformative one.
dear alison

Dear January Alison,

Well weren’t you just living it up in Florida!? Disney World, air boat rides, that time you almost ran into an alligator in the wild, your first spa day… What a way to kick off your year!

I forgot that you tried starting a budget spreadsheet. Haha. I also forgot that you posted a couple workouts and you did lots of burpees. You were a maniac with burpees.

You started your second semester of freshman year, but winter storm Juno shaved off what felt like half of your class time. Not that you were complaining.

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Dear February Alison,

Second semester kicked your bootay, despite the snow days you had every Monday. I’m proud of you for getting through anatomy, organic chemistry, linguistics, and a tedious writing class all in one go.

You also became a certified tour guide for Boston University, woohoo! I know you were stressed about remembering all the information, but you pulled through.

Lent started and you gave up music. THAT WAS HARD. But spring retreat with the Catholic Center totally recharged you and made you remember what truly matters.


Dear March Alison,

You posted about your eating disorder struggles for NEDA week. That was heavy, but it was good for you to reflect on your progress and hopefully good for others who have similar struggles.

Spring break was a BLAST! You hung out with your BFF, Daliza, and I think this is when you realized that you have a college BFF too (Rachel!). Of course, y’all bonded over food. BIG TIME.

You joined intramural softball even though you hate baseball/softball. You weren’t good at softball and you’re still not good, but I hope you learned to try new things anyway.

You cried for the first time over schoolwork, but are you really in college if that doesn’t happen?

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Dear April Alison,

Wait whoa, this is your last month of freshman year already. You celebrated your first Easter away from home with some beautiful people.

First Boston Marathon experience! Watching it at least. Get pumped for another year of screaming your lungs out and getting inspired by the participants.

You learned even further that there’s more to life than food and fitness. I’m glad you expressed this.

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Dear May Alison,

Finished with freshman year, what whaaaat.

You went to Colorado (hiking was beautiful, but work on that lung capacity, eh?) and Blend Retreat, which was like a dream to you. Wasn’t it so cool to meet bloggers like Emily, Amanda, and Tina!? *starstruck*

Back at home, you started your physical therapy internship, which turned out to be an amazing experience.

Last but not least, you made one of the best decisions of the year in May— to take it easy with exercise and up the calorie intake.

Oh, you turned 19, which means you’re legal drinking age in Canada 🙂


Dear June Alison,

Look atchu with your new short hair! I dig it, even if other people don’t.

Vlogs with Daliza are always a fun idea.

Don’t forget that stretching, mobility and progressions are crucial in terms of physical fitness. Be a good physical therapist.

You met Arman AND you FaceTimed Julia. Still recovering from the fan-girling.

You also met up with college friends in the city! So cute, cool, and college.

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Dear July Alison,

Fourth of July in Boston was the best weekend ever. Tori Kelly live in concert is even better than recorded. How?

You talked about 99.9% recovery and the idea that 100% recovery might never be attainable, but to be honest, I think you’re gonna have to do a followup on that post…

Oh yeah! You had jury duty! That was a good experience. But it’s nice that you don’t get called back for another few years.

The barefoot walk for sex trafficking awareness is something you should do every year.

Keep working on becoming a better grownup, but hey, keep being extraordinarily ordinary.

fourth collage

Dear August Alison,

Rachel visited New York again! Fun times. Except when Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian ignored you. At least he retweeted you.

You made a lot of quick trips this month. First, you spent under 24 hours in Kansas City after a whole day of traveling there. The things we do for Midwestern hospitality. 😉 But seriously, St. Louis was lovely, especially since your baby cousin got baptized!

You and Pop also made a “quick” drive up to Canada for a few days, and you did cool things like bouldering and knife throwing.

Portland and Seattle are cool places. I think you need to go back there soon.

Two year blog anniversary, high five! Keep it up. I think you like this whole blogging thing.

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Dear September Alison,

You’re back at BU and loving it. So good to see your best friends again! Sophomore year, baby.

Also, don’t forget to own it. Yeah, you look stupid sometimes, but that’s what makes people/life not boring.

Kicking off a food bucket list with Rachel, I see. Typical you.

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Dear October Alison, 

Oof, you’re getting busy. But with really good things, like fall retreat.

Apple picking is still one of your favorite fall activities!

Also, first couples Halloween costume…with Rachel, haha! PB&J because you guys are so freaking predictable.

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Dear November Alison,

You finally asked Rachel to do a vlog with you! You guys also finished a whole tray of brussels sprouts. Please calm down.

There were a lot of emotions happening, especially with the terrorist attacks surfacing to the news. They really brought you back down to earth.

Thanksgiving was relaxing and wonderful in every way. Please always be this grateful.

Also, run. Even if you’re slow, just run if you feel like it, because you don’t hate it. I repeat: You don’t hate it.

OMG you also got something really exciting!!! Praise God.

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Dear December Alison,

Apparently, you have a “look of wellbeing.” I can tell you that it’s largely because of the people around you.

And just like that, half of sophomore year is done and gone.

Which brings me to this moment. Alison, never take what you have for granted and always trust in the Lord. Have no fear, because He has a good plan. I think this is the overarching theme of everything you’ve learned this year. Take this invaluable lesson and grow in it in 2016.

Keep on swimming.

-Alison on December 31, 2015


So tell me:

What would you tell yourself as you reflect on 2015?

Do you have any specific goals for 2016? Nothing specific for me. I’m not really a big New Year’s resolution person. I kinda just try to be better every day… #lame.

What are you doing for New Year’s? Hanging out with family here at my cousin’s house!


It’s Okay to Crave Healthy Food Too


What am I? A growing teenager?? (Please say yes, Lord.) I guess a long of day of traveling + a three hour time loss made me a little tired…


I won’t be here for long though. I’m moving back up to Boston in T minus two days!

Mom, Dad and I traveled all day yesterday due to two connecting flights. It started at 2:30AM Pacific Time and ended at 7PM Eastern Time, but we made it back safely. Home sweet home.

In case you missed what was happening these past five days, you can check out our Portland and Seattle adventures from yesterday’s post.

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If you read it yesterday, you probably noticed some a lot of typos and mysterious floating fragments. I was rushing to publish it from my phone right before the plane took off, so I took the leap of faith and hit publish without editing it a single bit. It kinda looked like tipsy typing at some spots.

You also may have noticed a lot of heavier, more indulgent foods than usual. Actually, that has been a trend throughout the past three weeks, since I’ve been traveling to every corner of the continent (not really) for fun family functions.


The beauty of traveling and being with loved ones is that it’s harder to worry about food and exercise. You eat out at a restaurant you normally wouldn’t choose, you eat two desserts instead of one, you go longer without eating a snack, but then you eat a huge meal later….

It’s liberating and nourishing to be able to eat foods with lots of sugar, grease, and salt without feeling stressed. It adds enjoyment and adventure to the travel experience.

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It’s wonderful to know that I can eat out with family and friends on more than one occasion without worrying about how the food will make me look in the minutes, hours, or days afterwards.

However, just as I crave something sugary, salty, or greasy after eating lots of salads, plain grains, and lean meats, I also crave something fresh and healthy after eating lots of heavier foods.

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Not too long ago, I would be afraid that craving healthy foods meant I was reverting back to disordered eating, because all I would eat during my ED was salad, plain grains, and lean meats.

Don’t get me wrong, I definitely had my days when I said I was craving a light and fresh meal, but I was honestly craving a more meat-and-potatoes meal. This year though, I have continued learning to trust my body, and I’m finally at a point where I’m not mad at myself for eating foods that make me feel kinda crappy afterwards. Throughout basically three weeks of vacationing and eating foods that I’m not used to eating, my body has felt a little more “bleh.”

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I developed three huge zits on my forehead, a canker sore, and an irritated palate. I could go cry under my blanket, feeling guilty about all the salt and oil that made this happen; I certainly would have in the past. But God has slowly shaped me to be so at peace with myself that I just acknowledge these facts and move on.

Just after two days of eating a little less fried food and a little more fresh vegetables, my zits have almost all cleared up, and the roof of my mouth isn’t burning every time I eat something crunchy. I still had my share of sweets and grease in those couple of days, but I let my body gravitate towards, quote on quote, “cleaner” foods to make my face feel better.


last night’s dinner with whatever we had in the freezer/fridge


this morning’s breakfast afternoon’s lunch of cookie dough cereal + more unpictured chicken and spaghetti squash shortly after

I’ve said in the past that I’ve “finally found balance,” and I truly believe that I did back then. Nevertheless, God is constantly improving me {in all aspects of life}, so I think I can say that I’ve learned even more about balance.

I can go a little bit past the point of “indulgence” but not feel horrible about it. Instead, I can bring myself back to healthy eating without swinging into the “compensation” mindset. It’s not about calories, it’s solely about quality.

Sometimes I want peanut butter cookie a la mode. Sometimes I want peanut butter, banana, and milk.

So tell me:

What is the latest you’ve slept in until (that you remember)?

Do you notice that eating greasy, salty, sugary foods frequently makes you feel “bleh”?

What is your favorite greasy/salty/sugary food? And what is your favorite “healthy” food?

Day in the Life of a Second Semester Freshman

Hooray for day in the life posts! These are my absolute favorite posts to read, and luckily, they’re just as fun to write. Here’s what went down in the life (and noggin) of Alison yesterday:

6:15 AM— First alarm // “No.”

6:20 AM— Second alarm // *grooooooan* // check phone

6:25 AM— Out of bed, bathroom, change

6:35 AM— Eat a banana and some trail mix, pray, finish getting my stuff together for the gym

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{recycled photo}

6:55 AM— Trek it over to FitRec across campus

7:15 AM— Move and groove // Dirty Burpee Workout

7:50 AM— Walk back to the dorm // “So sweaty under this sweatshirt and heavy jacket, but it’s too cold to take them off ahhhh.”

8:10 AM— Shower and gather up my stuff for the day

8:40 AM— Breakfast, plus some reading and essay planning

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oatmeal with honey, shredded coconut, peanut butter, and banana + scrambled eggs doused in black pepper after this photo was taken

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9:30 AM— Discuss, listen, and learn in class // “I always need to pee every half hour after I work out.”

12:30 PM— Drop off a bag of donations for a clothing drive

1:00 PM— Lunch and blog reading

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salad with Greek dressing + roast beef, provolone cheese, and honey mustard sandwich on wheat

1:30 PM— Stop by my dorm room to exchange books in my backpack and start typing this post

1:50 PM— Go to the children’s library in the School of Education and to read picture books (they are sources for my writing course called Aesthetic Constructions of Childhood, aka a writing course about picture books 🙂 )

3:00 PM— Organic chemistry discussion class

4:00 PM— Walk to a place with a nice view to do homework // “Who knew picture books would consume two and a half hours of a single day?”

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4:50 PM— Snack on some Snap Pea Crisps and take a #basic sunset picture

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6:45 PM— Dinner! // “One of the best dining hall dinners I’ve had in a while!”

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turkey souvlaki pita + curry chicken

7:15 PM— Walk over to the Catholic Center to hear a talk about exorcism and deliverance // “This is so intense and now I want to bless ALL the things with Holy Water.” // But really, it was more fascinating and informational than freaky, promise.

9:00 PM— Back at the dorm for the night // Eat frozen banana and peanut butter

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9:15 PM— Emails, housekeeping stuff, finish up some homework, type this

10:40 PM— Get ready for bed because tomorrow (today) is another long day!

Hope you all have a fabulous day! You are awesome. BE NOT AFRAID.


Joining Jenn’s jolly linkup!

So tell me:

Three random things you did yesterday…

Two things you ate…

And one way you moved and grooved!

The Great and Small Things I Learned {College Semester I}

Beautiful friends of the earth, HELLO!

I’m done with my first semester of college and my mind is blown. I am typing up this post from my cozy home in New York, and I could not be happier to be on winter break for a month(!) spending time with family and friends. I am, however, going to dearly miss my friends from BU!

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Finals are over, and I have concluded three things: I still despise statistics, I love psychology, and a good breakfast that involves peanut butter and banana makes any morning of a final exam better.

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Post-chemistry-final distress selfie

Mom picked up brother Ben and me from Boston yesterday, and I’m happy to report that our drive home was much swifter than our drive back home for Thanksgiving break. I drove most of the way home, and we were cruisin’ right along. Thank God!

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My last Boston meal for the semester was grilled lemongrass chicken with rice and veggies from a delicious Vietnamese takeout place. Hit the spot.

The Great and Small Things I Learned This Semester

Needless to say, college teaches you things. Of course you obtain your book smarts and knowledge of this awesome universe in which we live, but some of the most valuable things are learned by just living life away from home and getting out of that sweet comfort zone. So without further ado, here are some of the great and small things I’m taking away from my first semester at Boston University!

(P.S. I’m typing this list while listening to OneRepublic’s song, I Lived. It’s awesome inspiration music.)

  1. Holding doors for other people and having the door held for you is an easy way to make you smile.
  2. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t have plans on a Friday or Saturday night. In fact, it’s often preferable.
  3. The fruit crisps are the best desserts in the dining halls (a la mode, of course). Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset
  4. The communal bathrooms will get gross, but you live through it.
  5. I still don’t know the names of all the guys on my floor (is that a good thing?).
  6. I have the best roommate!

    Happy birthday to the coolest roommate out there!!! 💃 #BUmovesandgrooves

    A post shared by Alison (@alison_grooves) on

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  7. Dorm workouts can make you as sweaty as a gym workout. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
  8. But nothing beats an outdoor workout by the river. Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset
  9. And running is oooooookayyyy…I guess. 😉Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset
  10. 10 AM classes are ideal. Not too early, not too late.
  11. Always snag bananas from the dining hall. You can never have too many bananas.
  12. “Room keys, ID card, room keys, ID card, room keys, ID card, PHONE!” <— an important thing that needs to run through my mind whenever I leave the room.
  13. It is possible to make best friends in just three months.bu friends
  14. I’m the “mom” of the group.Processed with Moldiv
  15. Hugging gets you through the day/week/life.
  16. Statistics is poopy.
  17. So many of my problems in the past were a result of a negative outlook and a “woe is me” attitude. Mentality is incredibly powerful.
  18. You will observe weird people, and you will also be the observed weird person. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
  19. I am a messy, klutzy person. Exhibit A // Exhibit B.
  20. Pedestrians RULE Boston. Sorry, drivers.
  21. The dorm walls are thinner than you think. Beware.
  22. How to cook steak…sort of.
  23. You will probably eat more sugar than you should, but life goes on and things will balance.picstitch
  24. There will always be cookies. Everywhere.
  25. Lunch and dinner dates are a thing and I kind of love them.Processed with Moldiv
  26. You will end up wasting more time than you wanted, but if you have the drive, you will find the time to get work done.
  27. Sleep is uhhhhhmaaaazinggggg.
  28. You walk so much in college. To go to class, to go to the gym, to get to a study place, to get your food…
  29. The funk in my dorm hallway slowly but surely gets worse every day (it’s honestly only the boys’ side). It was getting to near toxic levels when I left.
  30. Selfies are a way of life (see huge collage under #13).
  31. My blogger friends and readers are so wonderful and supportive.
  32. Speaking of wonderful…It’s good to say words such as wonderful, beautiful, and awesome to people, especially when you genuinely mean it.
  33. Humans are resilient like WHOA. We go through a lot.
  34. This semester has been one of the happiest times in my life.
  35. My faith has grown more this semester than it has in my entire life.10604424_10204140246360943_6812184516786650349_o

There are at least fifty other things I learned in addition to these, and I’ll probably think of them as soon as I hit publish, but here’s what I have for now!

It’s been so fun. There’s literally nothing I can say or do except to thank God for His abundant blessings. I pray that I can be fruitful with His gifts by spreading joy and service to others.

To whom much is given, much will be expected.

Have a fabulous day, friends! Good luck to all those finishing finals and traveling home! ♥


Thinking out loud with my favorite!

So tell me:

Three things you’ve learned in the past 3 months/6 months/year!

When was the last time you experienced profound mental, emotional, or spiritual growth?

What are you doing today?!

I’ll be baking, visiting my high school, and hopefully meeting up with some friends!