5 Reasons I Love Oklahoma

5 Reasons I Love Oklahoma

From a proud Okie.
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Why do I love Oklahoma? People who aren't from here ask me this question on a regular basis. I understand why people are curious because there are so many things about my beliefs that do not align with a state that makes national headlines for things that are regularly embarrassing. I do not support our Governor, I disagree with most things that the State Congress does, and hailing from a state that regularly provides the world with meme fodder has its disadvantages. The things that garner us national attention are usually cringe-worthy — except for Sweet Brown, you keep doing your thing, girl.

Aside from the fact that Oklahoma is regularly a national embarrassment, it is also home. I hail from a small town in Southeast Oklahoma — Hartshorne — that no one has ever heard of; we have two traffic lights and one is usually broken, people regularly ride their horses and/or ATVs into town, and, yes, we do have a guy who hitches a trailer to his lawn tractor and uses it to haul his groceries home. The town even reenacts a bank robbery as part of our Independence Day celebration, they've done it since my mother was a kid. I grew up watching it every year with my cousins and now one of them is one of the "outlaws" who rob the bank. It is traditions like these among other things that makes Oklahoma such a great place to live. Oklahoma will always hold a special place in my heart and it will always be OklaHOMEa.

Here are 5 reasons why I love where I live:

1. People are friendlier in Oklahoma than in other parts of the country, or even the world.

This is a photo of my NeeNee (grandmother) making her rounds at the local café. She makes it a point to say hello to and/or hug everyone she knows, which is usually most of the restaurant. I've been told by several people who aren't from Oklahoma that they find our friendliness weird and sometimes unnerving. We smile at strangers on the street and wave each other on at four-way stops. Apparently this is just plain strange to anyone who isn't an Oklahoma native, but its part of the reason I love this state.

2. The generosity and sense of community.

If you ask anyone from outside of our state what they know about Oklahoma, you'll likely hear "tornadoes." We are dead center in the middle of tornado alley and we know what a storm can do, but every time our community is ravaged by mother nature we come together to clean-up and rebuild. Almost everyone I know did something to help after the May 20, 2013 tornado that destroyed a big part of Moore, Oklahoma. It may have been a small gesture such as donating a few cases of bottled water or as big as throwing a benefit concert like Toby Keith. It doesn't matter what it is, big or small, Oklahomans help in anyway that we can.

3. The food.

Our state meal (yes we have a state meal) consists of chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, fried okra, pecan pie, sweet tea, and the list goes on. People who aren't from here get really confused when you say "chicken fried steak." When I lived in Michigan people called us strange for having black-eyed peas for New Years dinner and servers would always bring out unsweet tea and sugar packets when we ordered sweet tea. If you don't mind the fat content and cholesterol, our food can't be beat. Oh, and Dr Pepper, because Dr Pepper.

4. Norman

In my opinion Norman is the greatest city in the state. Move over OKC and Tulsa, Norman is comin' for ya. Norman is home to the University of Oklahoma and as a college town it has a lot to offer. Norman is the city of festivals where there is always something going on. Norman offers a wide variety of activities for a wide variety of interests. Norman has the Medieval Fair, Norman Music Festival, Jazz in June, the Summer Breeze Concert Series, and the second Friday of the month Art Walk on Main Street. In addition to the festivals and live music there is also a multitude of local bars and restaurants that are bound to strike your interest.

5. Local and regional music.

Another thing that I love about Oklahoma is the local and regional music scene. Many famous musicians hail from Oklahoma and many still call the state home; Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood, Vince Gill, Toby Keith, and the list goes on and on. Oklahoma has also brought us bands such as The Flaming Lips, The All-American Rejects, Kings of Leon, and Hanson. Aside from the more well known musicians listed above, Oklahoma is home to a fantastic lesser known sub-genre of country known as Red Dirt. The Turnpike Troubadours, Stoney LaRue, No Justice, Cross Canadian Ragweed, and The Damn Quails are just a few names that come to mind when I think of Oklahoma music. Red Dirt and Oklahoma country aren't all that the state has to offer as there is also a wide variety of genres represented throughout Oklahoma.

Pictured above is Hosty Duo, if you are interested in learning more about regional music I would suggest checking Hosty out - you can usually find him at The Deli in Norman most Sundays.

Cover Image Credit: Pinterest

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If You Give A Girl A Little Brother

You've given her the world.
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I remember back to my childhood, standing at the top of the steps yelling down to my parents "Why did you decide to have another child?" I remember riding in the backseat yelling "Mom, was I not good enough for you?" as my brother threw snow at me .

I remember crying when my mom made us share our first cell phone. I remember playing in a pool at a waterpark, and my dad couldn't play with me because my brother couldn't swim and needed my dad to be with him. I played by myself, thinking "They must have not wanted a girl when they only pay attention to him."

But now, at almost 22, I realized that the best gift God has ever given me was my little brother.

Give a girl a little brother, and you give her a pain in her ass.

Oh, he'll be annoying. He'll get in the shower just because you said you were going to. He'll start talking every time you do. He'll pull stupid pranks, he'll make you listen to bogus music, he'll make you watch stupid tv shows, he'll smell up the bathroom (and probably smell himself.) and boy, I promise there will be day's you will resent him. But he's just training for living with your husband one day.

Give a girl a little brother, and you give her a role.

As a big sister, I had somebody copying all my moves. If I did something, so did he. If I didn't eat something, neither did he. If I didn't like somebody neither did he. He was like a little shadow that did everything I did, so I was always motivated to make good choices and make him proud of me.

Give a girl a little brother, and you give her a rough side.

I wouldn't have done half the things I did if it wasn't for him. Play basketball in the drive way, spend hours on our bikes, spend the summer days in the pool, or down at the park. I wouldn't have learned that it's okay to get in the dirt and have some fun. I wouldn't have played half the made up, imaginary games we played every day. I wouldn't have played with Hot Wheels, or Lincoln Logs, or Leggo's. I would have played with Barbies by myself all day long, and what's the fun in that?

Give a girl a little brother, and you give her the best friend she'll ever have.

In the end, when our parent's both pass away, I won't be alone, because I will have my little brother. When the world gets tough, and everyone turns away from me, he will always be there. No matter where he end's up in life, I know he will drop everything and come running when I'm in need.

For Christmas this year, I bought my brother his first tattoo. We got matching tattoo's on our sides. Our lives our different now, because we're grown up and live on opposite sides of the state. But no matter where we go in life, if we look up, we will be looking at the same sun and moon. We are made up of the same matter, 'made' by the same people, and love each other more than I think we'd like to admit.

Alex is my true other-half.

Give a girl a little brother, and you made her whole.

Cover Image Credit: Abby Engel

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I Took A Trip To Spain And Learned SO Much More Than I Expected To

Did you know that Spaniards have concerts in the mountains?

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My trip to Spain seems like it was ages ago, but it also feels like I got back yesterday. I have always wanted to travel abroad, but I was never really emotionally ready to leave the country without my parents for a long period of time. However, during the summer of 2017, I got the chance to travel to Madrid, Córdoba, Toledo, Sevilla, and Granada, Spain with people that became my best friends.

Going to Spain was at first a big decision for me because I've never really been one that likes to be away from home. I decided that it would be a good way for me to overcome some of that anxiety since college was in my near future, but I was terrified. Of course though, in order to overcome anxiety, you have to experience it first and then learn how to get through it. That's the unfortunate part.

The trip was amazing and so life-changing. We spent two weeks traveling through different parts of the country, visiting museums, and going to school, all while unknowingly learning more about ourselves. The teachers helped us fully immerse ourselves into the Spanish culture, which, if you didn't know, is very different from American culture in so many ways.

The beginning of the trip was when my anxiety was the worst because not only did I have to spend nine hours on a plane, but as soon as we got there I realized that there were no more burgers or sandwiches. The only thing on the menu was croquetas and tortillas de patatas, and when you're jet-lagged and anxious, that's not really what you want.

As the trip went on, though, I got a lot more adapted and the people who I didn't know on the trip instantly became my best friends. I don't know how they couldn't have, given the fact that we snuck into each other's rooms every night in the hotel to tell stories and bond over how crazy it was that we were actually in Spain.

The second half of the trip, we split up into pairs and got to stay with host families, which honestly is the part of this trip that changed me the most. Every morning we would wake up and our mom would have our breakfast of bread and chocolate spread ready for us while she smoked a cigarette, and her daughters would dance to music while getting ready for school. We then would go to a school of our own, walking through downtown Granada to meet up with our teachers.

Besides learning how to speak better Spanish by taking classes at a local school, this trip taught me a lot. I learned that Spaniards really don't like when you speak English in the streets. I learned that they know a lot more about America than we think, and they definitely have their opinions on us. I learned that Spanish people go to concerts in the mountains and eat dinner at 10 p.m., and they wouldn't have it any other way. I learned that it's really hard to translate names of medicine to Spanish pharmacists.

I learned that Americans value hygiene a little more than the people in Spain, but that they have much more simple and loving way of life than we do. I learned that there is so much to see in this world and that we deserve to see it. I learned that it's not about where you are, it's about the company you have around you. I learned that the places that mean the most to you will always be the hardest to leave, but that they will be waiting for you when you come back.

Traveling to Spain brought me a lot of happiness and my family members would argue a new outlook on life too. Looking back on this trip it is hard for me to choose what the best lesson was that I learned, but I believe that it is this: the only person holding you back from doing anything in this world is yourself. So go do it.

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