I’ve always had a child-like heart, a natural attraction toward the simple things and stories of make-believe and whimsy and wonder. I’ve held on to my inner ten year old for close to thirteen years, as I debated on how to nourish her while still allowing myself to grow and mature at the same time. But this past year has made me realize how important that is, regardless if people think I’m crazy, or need to “grow up” in order to be taken seriously.
What was your routine like this year? Was there a specific part about it that you enjoyed?
It’s as though 2014 was broken up into two halves: the first six and a half months were about finishing and savoring every last moment of college, while the other part involved acclimating to life in the “real world.” I’ve swapped out classes for job hunting and interviews, homework for applications and test projects, and my sleep patterns are a bit out of whack. I get teased for typically going to bed before midnight (even on weekends, though there’s the exception of the occasional night out). With that being said, my schedule is still a bit unpredictable right now. Some days I go on interviews, some days I’ll spend hours in front of the computer pouring my soul into a word document. I try to work out at least three times a week and read before falling asleep. Typically there will be a to-do list of phone calls and sending out emails, and most of the time it doesn’t all get done in one day.
Regardless of where I’m at or what I’m doing, the one thing that has to be consistent for me is the morning.
I like waking up somewhere between five and six o’clock before brewing coffee and then making my way to the living room. Granted, I don’t set my alarm on Saturdays and allow myself to sleep in if I’m feeling exhausted, but naturally my body is up and moving before nine. I read a chapter in my Bible or a devotional before taking a little bit of time to pray. Typically this is done in my journal or out loud, depending on what kind of mood I’m in. After about an hour or two I take a couple of minutes to say “good morning” to various friends and family members. It might be somewhat cheesy, but it’s my way of letting people know that I’m thinking about them when we don’t have a ton of time to talk. And yes, being able to do so is one of the few reasons I’m grateful for texting.
It all comes down to feeling productive and feeling alive, with an added bonus of a beautiful sunrise most of the time. There’s nothing like the success of getting stuff done by the time lunch rolls around, and the later I wake up the harder it is to do that.
The reasons beyond those are hard to explain, other then being part of who I am. Mornings make me happy. They fill me with peace and a sense of encouragement that makes me able to conquer and accomplish. Of course I know that it’s not set in stone and that things will change as time passes. Reading might have to slide over to the time I spend on a bus or train. Writing in my journal might get pushed back to later in the evening because I can only squeeze so many thoughts in a five minute time period. Writing stories or essays might become weekend-oriented, and that’s OK.
No matter what time it all takes place, I have to do so slowly. The pace is what makes it sacred to me, because that’s how I grow from it. It fills my soul, and as long as I make the time for it, that’s what matters most.
What did you accomplish?
Lord knows where I should start with this one. 2014 in and of itself should be an accomplishment, filled with tiny victories that are honestly still in progress. But there’s one thing that stands out above the rest: maybe some of you, Dear Readers, have been there. Maybe some of you have witnessed it, and multiple times over. I know that a multitude of loved ones were there, when I walked that stage and turned that tassel. For you it might have been anti-climactic, or so hectic and emotional that you might not remember it.
But for me, it was everything.
As you and Mom make your way to the main floor, you look over and realize that she is starting to cry, and that along with the Iowa Hawkeyes logo stretching across a min-jumbotron makes you choke up too. Do not break down! You tell yourself as the coordinator points to the front row, indicating where you’ll be sitting and that the formal procession will begin shortly. You’re glad you’re not walking down the stairs (how is that possible when you have to go quickly, and much less in heels), but being in the front row makes you feel uneasy. There were no rehearsals, so all you can do is hope you don’t look like an idiot.
The ceremony begins as professors and students proceed down the stairs. The commencement speakers are teachers of either philosophy or theology, and one even encourages people to tweet his speech while talking. It was so long and therefore difficult to remember everything, but he touches on going out into the world and crediting parents for getting you all here, which the crowd takes about a minute or two to applaud. He encourages graduates to ask for help, and the phrase “Hawkeyes stick together” causes you to well up with emotion all over again. You suddenly experience chills, an indication that something big is happening, and you better remember it.
This isn’t a day to be sad, you realize, but a day to be proud. It’s not about getting a formal piece of paper or proving anyone wrong. It’s about how you laughed, danced, created, kissed, cried, lost, hoped, prayed, grieved, rejoiced, loved, and savored. But you also found: God, friends, but most importantly, you found yourself again.
And it was all in this beautiful place that some call college, others Iowa City, but you know that part of you will always call it home.
I was here. Holy crap, I really was here. In this place, with these people. I did it!!!
What were the quirky/peculiar things that you noticed about yourself this year? In honor of the approaching 2015, name the top fifteen ones.
Yes, I am a quirky person. Some would take it a step further and call me a total dork, but I’m no longer bothered by it. It makes me feel light-hearted and a much more fun person to be around, and that’s what matters.
1. I have days where I literally forget to eat either breakfast or lunch. It might be stress or having a busy day, but all the sudden I hear my stomach growling and go “wait a minute….that’s why.”
2. I typically have nicknames for my closest friends and cousins; most of the time they’ve never heard me call them that, but I have them listed as that in my phone. And if somebody doesn’t have a nickname, I’ve picked out their celebrity look-alike: I have one friend that looks like Kenny Chesney and another who’s a cross between Bradley Cooper and John Krasinski.
3. The song “Let It Go” (from Frozen) makes me cry a little bit. I have my days where I feel like Elsa….
4. I prefer FaceTime over talking on the phone with someone because it helps me to stay focused on the conversation. But if I absolutely have to, I will make an exception for the phone call.
5. I can no longer sleep in past eight o’clock in the morning; my body won’t let me do it anymore.
6. My friend made me an Iowa tie-blanket before I went to college, and most of the time I couldn’t fall asleep without it because it kept me from getting home sick. Now a days it helps me when I start to really miss Iowa.
7. There are times where if I can’t give a person a hug, the least I will do is send them a nice little quote from Pinterest or one of those e-cards. I’m especially getting a kick out of those “daily odd compliments.”
8. Speaking of closeness, if I’m sitting next to you and begin to gradually scoot next to you, don’t take it personally. Though normally if I don’t know you that well I’ll be fully aware of not to do it.
9. I’ve slowed down when it comes to reading books; not because I’ve lost interest, but because there are some books that are so good and I just don’t want them to end.
10. I still dance around the kitchen when no one else is home. And I still have specific music stations for certain things that I do (i.e. cleaning, cooking, working out, and getting dressed up).
11. My go-to drinks usually involve flavored vodka and lemonade, Red’s Apple Ale (Angry Orchard is a good substitute), or Moscato.
12. I wake up to “Sunny and 75” almost every morning. That song just instantly makes me happy, especially when I don’t want to get up.
13. Watching sports is actually nerve-wracking, especially football!
14. I tend to get up super early in the morning when I have to go somewhere; these days it’s still pretty dark by then, so I have this habit of turning a lot of lights on so I’m not too skittish when I’m getting ready.
15. I’m typically always the one that’s early for things; it gives me time to relax (or prepare) if needed.
Do we have any in common?
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It’s all too easy to put off loving where we are until everything is perfect. What can you love about where you are now? (prompt credit: Kat McNally)
My grandfather has repeatedly told me that the months following graduation are one of the most depressing and frustrating times in a person’s life. Not only are you leaving behind what you’ve come to know, but you’re entering into a stage that’s unpredictable, where you’ll face a lot more rejection than acceptance. It’s the time where I have to “be an adult and figure it out,” as my mom recently phrased it. It can be confusing and daunting. Depending on the circumstance, it can be down right terrifying. But it’s a time of re-evaluating and establishing my own values and way of doing things.
Despite frequently the lack of positive outcomes and feeling as though I’m running into a lot of brick walls, this is still a time to be savored.
- I love living with my grandparents; It’s an emotionally healthy environment, and they keep me laughing for the majority of the time. My grandfather has been extremely helpful with mapping out various areas of the city when I have to go for interviews, and they’ve both encouraged me in my career pursuits.
- I appreciate alone time: the time to write, to journal, to deepen my relationship with God, and ultimately grow and become a better person.
- My tribe is scattered. I don’t get to see very many of my closest friends all that much, and phone calls or Facetime tend only be every couple of weeks or so. Despite the distance and the changes, there’s still a mutual sense of love and support. Life may get busy, but that doesn’t mean we care for each other any less.
- I’m now embracing messiness, both literally and figuratively. I’m becoming less afraid of how I present myself and more open letting people see the crazy parts of my journey. It is possible to be raw and vulnerable without feeling hopeless. It is possible to feel sad, low, and depressed without being dragged down by it.
- Despite the separation the emotional separation, my family does mean the world to me. On most occasions we have different perspectives and don’t always agree, but at the end of the day we love each other. They’re the ones that teach me about acceptance and about grace; but most importantly, they’re teaching me that love is both given and received in different ways, and you have to recognize how to meet halfway. I don’t always understand the choices and decisions that are made, but that doesn’t mean I love or appreciate them any less.
- And on that note, I’m grateful for this time because of how I’m learning to love myself. I recognize that I am a child of God and a human being; that my identity is not in my career, my personal history, or my relationships. It’s remembering that I’m doing the best that I can, and that I need to stop beating myself up when I feel that I don’t do enough. And again, it’s embracing the messiness while still holding onto hope. Not hope that life itself will get better, but that God will give me the strength and tools to build a life for myself.
Was there something new that you tried in 2013? What was it? How did it make you feel? (prompt credit: Paper Relics)
In all my years I never predicted that I would come to love cooking as much as I have. Aside from baking, it didn’t seem like my parents or family members really enjoyed it, like it was more a necessity rather than something fun. The fact that it was always done against a clock (meaning there were times were there was a lot of rushing around) made me dread it for a couple of years. I didn’t start seriously getting into it until I moved into an apartment on my own junior year, where I had my own space and it was much bigger. I think the first meal I ever made in it was sauted fajita meat, (microwaved) mashed potatoes, and a side of vegetables. It wasn’t huge, but it was a start.
Though a lot of what I make for dinner or lunch is already pre-made (I love those frozen Bertoli skillets; they take all of ten minutes and I usually have enough for a second meal), I love the creativity that goes into it. And the more I do it, the more confident I become in my abilities. It’s definitely more enjoyable when I put music on in the background; right now my go-to playlists on Pandora are the easy-listening and George Strait stations. Depending on what song is on, cooking can turn into a spiritual, almost romantic experience. Again, it’s in the beauty of creation, which is more true when I’m cooking for other people. There’s nothing like sharing a meal over a glass of wine with your closest friends, even if it isn’t from scratch.
That’s not to say that I haven’t or don’t want to attempt at personal creations. A couple of months back I (tried) making chicken prosciutto pasta; it was a lot of fun, but the sauce came out a little gooey so I’m wondering if I should try substituting heavy whipping cream for something else, or use a different brand of cheese. I would love to learn how to make my Dad’s chili or get the recipes for my paternal grandmother’s chicken and noodles and beef stew. Those aside, I love coming up with my own stuff; I just have to remember to actually write it down!
One of the best things is that there is always something new to learn; sometimes it’s as simple as heating sauce on the stove as opposed to a microwave, or using different pans or seasonings or in order to give meat a little more flavor. I’m still not the best at making rice or grilled cheese, admittedly.
Despite past associations, I hope that cooking is something that I will continue to love and get better at as time goes on. I don’t buy the whole “women belong in the kitchen” garbage (or whatever variation people use) and would like it to be something that my significant other and I can do together when that time comes. On a practical note, I do tend to need help with taking things out of the oven, lifting heavy pots/pans, and even chopping. So if the guy doesn’t want to eat burnt pizza and before eight o’clock at night, he’s going to have to lend a hand! And I say that with love and humor, if nothing else.
What about you? Do you have any off-the-wall tips for cooking? What are your favorite recipes?
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Life has been busy, and my reasons for not blogging these last couple of weeks don’t necessarily only relate to it being it that time of year again; the remaining weeks before the semester’s end, where everything starts to pile up and suddenly you can’t see beyond the multiple essays and projects that are due by the time winter break rolls around. A lot of it has been for emotional reasons as well; I’m starting to realize that whenever I allow myself to be genuinely honest and vulnerable in any work that I do, I start feeling somewhat depressed, drained, and even angry. I kind of seeing it as being similar to when an actor gets really deep into the character role that they’re playing, and when the cameras are off it can be difficult to separate the fictional world from real life.
But what I’m writing isn’t fiction, it is real life. My life, and a big part of my personal history. I always imagined that one day I would write my whole story down, but in bits and pieces. I think this is the beginning of it. For now I will write essays, but I can definitely imagine one day writing and sharing a memoir with the world. I just don’t feel that twenty one years is enough of experience to write a full autobiographical book.
In any case, that has been the main reason that blogging has been sparse for a lot of this month; I have so much to write about and discuss, but it’s all very deep and in combination with the essays, I’m nervous about it spilling out of my brain like a pile of goop.
When I do get those feelings, it’s mostly because I get stuck thinking about the past. I’m currently writing an essay (one that as of right now is at twenty pages) about how going to college and living in Iowa City has provided me a way to heal, mostly through the people that I’ve met, the relationships that I’ve had, and how I’ve grown through all of it. For my other final project, I’m writing about a few monumental experiences that I’ve had in the downtown area, specifically as a woman and a college student. For that particular class we have often discussed the whole virgin/whore binary, and how there is no language to discuss the in-between. I’m basically going to write about what it’s like to be smack dab in the middle. Don’t get me wrong, I have talked about it before, but never in terms of how I’ve honestly felt about it. It will be good and hopefully lift a lot of the shame off of my shoulders, but it’s still daunting.
I’m finding that the hardest part about writing, specifically personal essays, is doing so without hurting anybody. However, it seems that the whole concept of “airing dirty laundry” tends to be simultaneous with malicious intent. I think as long as you make it clear that you’re not holding some of grudge against them and that you’re taking steps to move forward, the reaction shouldn’t be that negative. In my case, I am not out to purposefully harm anyone, but simply give my perspective on the situation. Above all, I’m learning that you can only do so much when it comes to talking about something in a way that everyone can understand it. I’ve spent years tip-toeing around stuff because I’ve been terrified of the general reaction, but I’m starting to realize that perhaps that is my biggest problem. I focus so much on how to say it that it never actually happens.
Tell me, dear writers, how do you deal with this sort of thing? How do you let your brain decompress, particularly when you have a deadline to meet? How do you tell the truth without hurting those involved?
In lighter news, I’m changing my career path a little bit; initially I wanted to work for a publishing company and still write on the side, which in a way is still true. But after doing some networking and talking with people who’ve been in the business, I see now that doing something social media related may be the better way to go. There aren’t any solid prospects just yet, but I’m getting there.
The main thing right now is just to gain experience, which I do have and continue to get. I am both a writer and copy-editor for a new lifestyle and culture magazine, which will mostly likely launch at the start of next semester.
This week will be a busy one, and I’m all too excited to be able to go home and spend some time with my family for Thanksgiving. Granted, I’ll still have work to do, but at least I won’t have meetings and other stuff to deal with.
Life is busy, but also incredibly wonderful!
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It’s no secret that over the last couple of years, fall/autumn has become one of my favorite times of the year. While nature begins to slowly change and the air starts to chill, it’s also a time where I feel incredibly close to the people around me. I’ve taken to calling in the “wrapped in a warm blanket” type feeling. Everything is just warm and cozy and comfortable.
These special (and somewhat sentimental) occasions are what keep me sane when the homework load gets heavy, or I experience a bout of senioritis like an overnight flu bug. My friends and I have celebrated a plethora of birthdays, went to an orchard/pumpkin farm and indulged in everything relating to pumpkins and apples (with a semi-photo shoot to boot), cried over the Cory Montieth tribute while watching Glee, and other memories that seem insignificant to the rest of the world. However, they mean the world to me.
As I look back on the fall season as a whole, I’ve noticed that it’s when a lot of wonderful, crazy, and even life changing events have taken place. In the span of four or five years, I’ve met and found many of my closest friends, grew deeper in my faith, and learned how to deal with painful aspects of my history. And it suddenly occured to me that while some seasons are better than others, life truly does happen in seasons of love.
It’s not always deep conversations over wine or hot chocolate. Schedules are hectic, and there are weeks and days where prayer requests and “thinking of you” via text takes the place of bear hugs and face-to-face interaction. While I do believe in not letting to-do list’s and school work dominate quality time, I’m beginning to understand the other side of the coin: it’s not a matter of whether or not you want to, but whether or not you can without reaching the point of exhaustion. Right now I’m walking a thin line of packing so much in all at once. It’s frustrating because on one hand I feel like I’m on a race against time, trying to make the most of every moment before it all runs out. On the other, that’s all you really can do; appreciate the time you do get with people, even if it’s small and insignificant when it’s happening.
That’s where I’ve learned to appreciate random run-in’s, where all you can do is exchange a hug and “how are you?” that lasts all of five minutes before you have to go to class or run to catch up with whomever. That’s where I’ve not learned not to focus on what place somebody has in my life or try to be best friends when every person that I know. I’m not going to obsess over who has treated me right and who hasn’t. It’s just not worth the energy, especially now.
Leaves turn. Things happen. Don’t just measure good by what you have or what you can give, but how you grow.
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