Goodbyes and Growing Up

Lately, each day I have set aside time in the peaceful, quiet mornings to reflect on my college years.

It’s not much, but it’s helpful looking back on how I have matured through the processes these four years took me through. And while I wouldn’t be considered “good” at goodbyes, I’m saying goodbye in my own ways. I don’t like the sad goodbyes. I like the ones with smiles, knowing we won’t easily be forgotten or the smiles affirming how blessed our time together has been.

The process of growing up is to be valued for what we gain, not for what we lose.” – C.S. Lewis

Similar to goodbyes, growing up can be looked at as losing the things – or people – we desperately want to hold on to. Instead, goodbyes and growing up should be valued and revered for the how time has brought us to where we are now.

I could never have imagined the relationships I have formed with friends, roommates, classmates or professors. And if I would have planned my life out in advance, I would have missed a lot from the unexpected.

I can’t follow my own plans, I have learned.

This college was never on a Top 10 list, or even a Maybe list. It was on the unwritten, Do Not Go list along with several other schools that had too many hills or not enough nature paths. But what do I know? Turns out, this was the perfect school for me. If I would have followed my own plan I would have passed up on a lot of good things.

I wanted to drop out of college my sophomore year. Thankfully, I was persuaded to stay. And I will soon be a college graduate, with classes and lessons I would not have experience had I given up years ago.

My plans may be subpar, considering I would have missed a whole heck of a lot between just two decisions. But I can now look back at the university and all the formed relationships with a smiling goodbye, knowing we won’t be easily forgotten and have been blessed to be together.

So with goodbyes and growing up, I know definitively I have gained much more than I will ever be able to lose.

Because You’re Fresh

Summertime come soon. Bring back with you the freshness of fruit, the colorful world and the juiciest life.

I love my fruits – and my citruses. Once you bite into them, it’s like a whole new, happy day is coming alive.

I’m finding my inspirations in the things that make each day fresh. Long live the colors of newness.

JUSTINA-BLAKENEY-CITRUS

 

Not-so Cookie Cutter Lives

Last week I went to a lecture and the speaker said something that’s really resonated with me since then. She said,

“Our stories aren’t out of books, they’re not cookie cutter lives. But good or bad, it’s our job to share our messy stories for the sake of the movement.”

I had to let that sink in for a while. Now, she was referring to the women’s rights movement, but I think what she said is so very relevant to much more.

It’s always seemed to me like people want to hear the happy, feel-good stories rather than the hard, still-struggling ones with unknown endings. But maybe that’s not so true.
For whatever sake, we should share our stories. Good or bad, our stories matter.

Sometimes we can give off the impression that we do have neat, story-book lives when in reality, we could be made up of somewhat difficult pieces.

Just like when snow covers the ground flawlessly, I am easy to forget all the dirt and grim underneath.

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When snow is so beautiful, it’s simple to focus on what it looks like now without remembering all it took to look like the picture perfect scene.

Trees went through a lot to get where they are now, blanketed with winter. Their leaves went through the color-changing process, falling when they finished to a pile on the ground. Mud and dirt filled the brown earth before the snow arrived. And soon, ice was all around, threatening car and walkers alike.

But then, all the change suddenly seemed worth it on that first snowfall.

Looking out the window overjoyed at the beginning of this new season, how soon we forget the frozen ground left behind.

So whether our lives currently resemble fresh, fallen snow or like the melted, messy passing kind – it’s up to us to share our stories for others’ sake. We share to let others know they’re not alone in this fight, to remember we’re not cookie cutter, and to see how much we’ve been blessed.

Ways Not to Find a Job

It seems like yesterday was New Years. And today it’s March.

Just yesterday I was a freshman, walking into classes intimidated by the scary upperclassmen. And today I am 10 weeks away from graduating. I can’t believe how quickly college has flown by, now It’s already time to start looking for jobs.

As I prepare to look for my first position in the real world, there are a few sure-fire ways to fail before I even begin. Here are just a few:

Sit back and wait for a job to come to you. Last fall, when the first inklings of my future were popping into my head, I would freak out about what I would do and where I would go in life. There was never any action taken, just nervousness. I would wish for a door to be open right in front of me. This isn’t exactly the best way to find a job worth looking for.

Post trashy pictures on Facebook. The other day I googled myself and couldn’t believe the pictures that showed up. Things from high school, and pictures I had linked to other friends. Not only was I wigged out to see memories I hadn’t even remembered myself, but I can only imagine what would have flashed on my screen if I had been some crazy party-er. Nothing’s ever private on the internet.

Make a resume full of generalized adjectives. I cringe when I see resumes that include “friendly, team player, self-starter.” How extremely nondescript. I’m sure you won’t set yourself apart with broad terms like these. Put some extra effort into your individual, positive characteristics

Typos, anywhere. You can’t prove to an employer you’re perfect for a job if you write something with the wrong they’re/their or your/you’re. Yikes, proofread everything you send in.

Word vomiting in an interview. Over-sharing your life story can be a little TMI for someone who wants to hire a stable, hardworking employee. When I get nervous, I ramble on and on and on. This could put me at a slight disadvantage, possibly exposing too much.

Even thinking about these things gets me worried about finding a job. But above all else, it’s proving to another person why you are perfect for the job. So whether or not you slip up in one way, you can be have hope in a second chance, although it may be for another open door.

Winter is Dead and Hope is Alive

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” – Anne Bradstreet

After nearly no physical exercise this winter (minus the yoga at home and the winter walks) I ran outside today. I ran in the 35 degree Wisconsin weather that is similar to a refreshing summer day. And although I am severely out of shape, the sun cheered me on and the melting snow puddled under my moving feet.

I was reminded of the gift of sun and comfort of warmth. It all brought me back to visions of England life, where the weather was always drab and those beautiful few days were filled with joy.

As we have endured, and will continue to endure as more snow arrives tomorrow, the cold winters build a foundation for thankful springs.

Author Anne Bradstreet had it right. All of our trials and challenges give us hope for better times. The times we are fighting ourselves and the tragedies of life, build a foundation for thankful times. 

If this is one of those not-so-great seasons in the valley of desperation, be reminded of the seasons on the mountain tops. Hold onto hope for a better, happier tomorrow but also be grateful for the growing season you may find yourself in.

 

When Grace Came to My Door

The flashing lights were now approaching and my heart sank. Maybe I should have cried or made some elaborate story. There was no turning back now. The cop was tapping on my window.

It was a Sunday and I was on my way to church. However, this doesn’t excuse the 16 mph I was driving over the speed limit. I just let all unfold before my eyes like I was watching it in a dream. A young lady gets pulled over by the token, surly old cop. I knew I deserved the ticket, so when she came to my window I reluctantly handed over my license, apologizing for the sorry attempt at slamming on my brakes the second I saw her car. As she merely agreed and walked off to write up my ticket, I couldn’t pray for a miracle or a chance of fate. I knew what would happen, and I wasn’t surprised when the cop returned with not only my license, but also that dreadful pink notepad.

This is where the story takes a turn. The cop then asked where I was coming from and where I was headed. Explaining I am a college student heading off to church, the surly expression changed. The woman looks me in the eye and smiles. This cop smiled at me. Glancing between me, the soon-to-be-in-debt college student, and her notepad, holding my ticketed fate, a miracle happened.

“It makes me happy to hear of a college student going to church. I’ll let you off with a warning so you won’t be late. Enjoy your day and keep making good choices.”

I thought I heard wrong. But, I actually wanted to get out of my car and hug this woman in uniform once I understood. Here was this woman reprimanding people not following the law, and here I was not following the law. I deserved that ticket. I deserved a big, fat ticket.

And with grace being given to me, I was on my way.

I Earned My Adult Status

Recently, I realized I had arrived at adulthood

No, it wasn’t when I paid my first rent check or when I finally made my first pot of coffee. It wasn’t even when I planted my first garden.

I arrived at adulthood when I discovered I made my bed each morning.

It must have been a process, but I don’t exactly remember when it started or how it changed. But during my childhood, there was an ongoing fight that usually went like this: 

Mom: Al, turn the TV off and make your bed.

Daughter: Uh huh, sure mom. 

Dad: Make your bed before you leave for school. 

Daughter: uh huh, sure.

Mom & Dad: MAKE YOUR BED!

…And so it went. My childhood was passing and my bed was rarely made. Yet, somewhere along the journey of life, this changed. Now, in my own house, I wake up earlier than five minutes before class begins. I enjoy these mornings. I wake up, start the coffee, and make my bed. Every day. That’s the way it goes.

Maybe this is insignificant to those of you who appreciate a spotless house. Personally, I can handle a floor covered in clothes, dishes filling the sink, and blankets strewn throughout the house. Until I want to be productive, that is. If I want to write a paper in my room, the entire house has to be clean. So don’t mind me while I thoroughly clean the house just to do homework.

Regardless, my bed is always made. Somehow I tolerate the rest of the mess, but not my bed. At first I thought my bed had to be made to not tempt me to crawl back into it. Then, I realized this is what it looks like to be an adult. As a preteen, my bed was never made. As a teenager, my bed was never made. As a freshman in college, my bed was never made. As a senior is college, my bed is made.

It’s as if my bed screams “Now you’re an adult,” every morning.

And I’m not sure if I like it.

And Then I Got a Tattoo…

Probably the riskiest adventure from this past summer: getting a tattoo.

I’ve never been against them, I’ve just been too indecisive to ever follow through with it – until now. My loving father and I did it together. He, of course, went first. And the only thing I’ll mention about the pain: It was comparable to someone carving into your skin with an open staple. Get the picture?

If not, here’s a hint:

photo 1

So, after all these weeks and months contemplating, what did I choose?

Love.

One word.

When most people see it, they mention something about how tiny and dainty it is. People don’t ask me why I chose it. Maybe because it seems like a cliche tattoo, or maybe it’s just obvious. “Oh, love, right.” 
Only two people have ever asked why, one of which was in a business setting at work. Minutes prior to asking, he mentioned that if I were looking for a job at his company, I wouldn’t get hired for the nearly one inch tat on my wrist. Still he wondered enough to question my motives. Luckily, I have thought about it for so long that I was ready with my answer.

And this is what I said:

There’s a time when you begin to realize love is powerful.
Love changes relationships. Love changes friendships. Love changes situations.
And this love is so incredibly unknown, it’s usually accompanied with fear.

But…when you finally give into that fear, love’s scariness soon becomes adventure. Love’s awkwardness becomes comfort.
Love is extremely underrated. Call me naive or inexperienced, but I believe that once we truly recognize love’s power, it can take us places.

I think once we relinquish love from being understood, those strong feelings actually become real. If we give more credit to this electric power that pulls us in, we could make actions not out of routine or what society tells us, but actions out of love.
There’s a time when we realize loves power and strength. There’s a time we come to see that love can change the world.

And when that time comes – where can’t love take us?

photo 2

Senior Update

Senior Year.

It’s taken a whole lot to get this far.

Seriously, let’s think about it. Year 16 of schooling? Yikes. Now, that’s just a lot.

I know some people like the studying, the learning, the not-sleeping. Nah – not me. I like being determined. I like having a syllabus to tell me how this semester will look. I like learning something that’s actually interesting. But I think it’s taken up a lot of my life. I know I may regret saying I’m ready to be finished with school in approximately 11 months when I need to have an income, but for now I’m ready to not.

The nice thing though? I don’t have a job. I have more time this semester than I probably will ever again. Six classes is a lot of schoolwork. It’s a lot of time in the library. But as far as the rest of my time goes, I’m free. And that’s kinda weird.

Journalism classes are sure keeping me on my feet, though. Something a little new. And I like it.

Until then,

I’ll be here.

From Fairytales to Factory Work

I never expected this summer to live up to the semester of a lifetime. What could be better than next to no school work, traveling all over Europe, and British accents? I can’t think of much that could top that trio! But now that I’m back, how do I follow up the last 4 months?

Well… due to my severe lack of financial funds, it looks like a job has caught up with me. Back to the grind. And what better place to ring in a great America welcome than a factory!

That’s correct – this world traveler is spending her summer in a factory. It may seem unusual, but it’s a relatively nice change of pace (minus the unfortunate early mornings).

Check back in a few months and I’m sure I’ll have some great adventures here in my old stomping grounds. I’m looking for some new recipes, exciting bike trails, and an adventurous kayak trip.

Let summer roll in, baby.

xx