10 Things I Wish I Would Have Known at College Graduation

what i wish i knew when i graduated

Graduation season is here and upon us! I’ve just finished up my school year with my students, and my mother just graduated from college! She has been working so hard for this and I couldn’t be more proud to be able to stand and cheer for her to congratulate her on everything she’s accomplished.

Now, it’s been a few years since I graduated from undergrad and I’ve learned a few things. I absolutely don’t regret the experiences I’ve had since then because it’s all made me who I am now, but if I knew then what I know now… I can only imagine the differences it could have made.

I wish I’d known…

That I didn’t have to have it all figured out. It’s ok to still be a little lost. I put so much pressure on myself to have everything all worked out and planned. Little did I know I’d end up on a much different path.

I wish I’d known…

I deserved so much more than I thought I had to settle for. I now know I am worth so much more than all of that. In relationships, work, and life in general.

I wish I’d known…

You’ll be a different person in a few years, and that’s ok! You’re most likely an incredible person now, and life and experiences will continue to shape and change you, especially within the next few, very formative years of adult life. Allow yourself to grow and change and stretch yourself as life goes on.

I wish I’d known…

Being intentional about keeping in touch is so incredibly important. Facebook and other social media may make us feel pseudo-connected to others but taking the time to reach out and have a conversation can go so far in keeping up friendships and other relationships.wishidknown

I wish I’d known…

There were so many amazing things ahead of me. They say college has the best years of your life, but there is SO MUCH good that comes after. Late nights spent dancing, days full of laughter, lessons to be learned- they aren’t over!

I wish I’d known…

You can still make new friends! It definitely gets harder to make new friends after college because you aren’t all in the same place anymore, but new jobs, hobbies, and experiences will all bring more friends your way!

I wish I’d known…

Staying in on a Saturday night can be SO satisfying. Adult life can be exhausting. Between work, social obligations, and keeping up with all other responsibilities, sometimes you need a Saturday night to just stay in and relax with some Netflix. If you’re lucky enough to have a cat like mine, they’ll definitely appreciate the extra attention time as well.

I wish I’d known…

Invest in relationships with as many people as possible, and do it with meaning. Fostering relationships and networking is so important to make sure you stay connected in your community. These people will be your keys when you need a new opportunity or just want to meet more people. It’s also important to keep connected to your friends and social circle to make sure you don’t let yourself feel lonely.

I wish I’d known…

You’re going to have to give yourself the recognition you want. There are no letter grades anymore so you have to keep track of how you’re doing on your own. No one is going to give you gold stars (ok, maybe my students DO give me stickers sometimes!) or A’s, so it’s important to make sure you’re always doing your best work and give yourself small rewards sometimes. Which leads me to…

I wish I’d known…

Find small ways to treat yo’ self. They don’t have to be expensive shopping trips or vacations, but small things throughout your day to make yourself feel good and special. Next week I’m posting a list of fun (and cheap!) ideas for how to do this, so stay tuned for that!

graduate

With my mom at my undergrad graduation and then my grad school graduation!

Your turn!
What do you wish you would have know when you graduated? Is there anything you wish you could go back and do differently?

My Word of the Year

word of the year persist

2014 was thrive.
2015 was strong.
2016 was peace.

Each year, my word of the year has seemed to fit right into how the year would end up.
In 2014, I wanted and found so much change and growth and newness. I thrived in a new city, job, and a relationship I fell deeply into. Though I’d end up leaving all of these things, 2014 was for thriving in all aspects and being intentional about the joy in my life.

In 2015 I needed to be studying and to leave and get out of an awful situation. I needed strength to persevere through what would turn out to be a few almost impossible months. I needed, gained, and used strength in 2015 for big changes and building a steady foundational ground under my own two feet.

For 2016 I wanted peace. Peace with my decisions. Peace with my season and place in life. Peace with myself and those around me. I wanted to keep a reminder of peace on my heart and mind throughout the year. I finally felt like I’m reached a place where it was possible. I found my peace.

2017

This year, nothing felt right. Or at least, I should say, no word felt right. Starting around December I started reflecting on the past year and thinking about what word I wanted to focus the coming year on. I thought up a few good options,- stay, reach, aim, work, go.

However, none of those felt right. They all had a piece of what I wanted this year to bring and what I wanted to bring into my life, but none of them stuck out as bringing a rounded view of my focus.

Then this past week happened.

And Elizabeth Warren persisted.

nevertheless she persisted

And it hit me.

Persist.

It took me until now, the middle of February, to realize what word I wanted and I needed to build my year around. An incredible and amazing woman persisted through every challenge put before her. And that specific word- persist- has continued to jump out at me. It is everything I tried to find in a word for this year. This year I will do my best to persist through every challenge put before me, every barrier I come across, and every burden put upon me.

In 2017, let me persist.

Colleges That Change Lives | Agnes Scott

agnes scott college

Both women and education have been under fire quite a bit lately. I want to bring some light to one of the most incredible institutions in higher education. A women’s college. My college. Agnes Scott College.

More than once, we’ve been featured in the book and on the website Colleges that Change Lives. I absolutely stand behind this naming. Agnes Scott absolutely changed my life. I’ve said time and time again that my college experience was the best thing that could have happened to me. Let me tell you a little more about the college that changed my life for the absolute better.

Agnes Scott and the scholarship I am forever grateful to have earned put my life on a trajectory that I never could have imagined for myself. It took a small-town girl from Idaho and plucked her out of the middle of a wheat field, setting her down in Atlanta. That alone allowed me to be pulled and grow into a different woman. I learned so much from living in a diverse city and neighborhood full of wonderful people that showed me how much I still have to learn.

The experiences I had and the people I met supported and drew out of me the strength and skills that were in me. They helped me become a leader, a caretaker, a lover, and a fierce fighter.

Even now, I am using what I learned.

My college made me capable of doing what I’m determined to. Agnes Scott encouraged in me a work ethic that stays with me still. Now, working 6 days a week during the school year (most of the time). But I get to work at a job I find so much joy and fulfillment in because I learned how to work hard and keep moving. I became even more convicted that every person deserves the very best in life and that I need to do my part to bring more love and learning to one of the most poverty and violence stricken neighborhoods in  Chicago. The mindset I gained also allows me to see it as so much more. Just as Atlanta became my home and my community, Chicago has become my home and community. My students have become my kids.

This is home, and my life is forever changed because of a college that took a chance on that girl from small-town Idaho.

On Body Image and Feeling Good

body image weight loss

This is a post that I’ve debated writing as it touches on some personal things and I generally try to keep a positive vibe going on this here blog. I heard a segment on the radio the other day talking about body image and how girls in Elementary school are already counting calories and thinking about their bodies in a negative way. I’ve seen first hand as the middle school girls I work with panic and worry about “getting fat” and awful it would be. As I try to be a good role model to them, I’m working on improving myself to a point where I can be a good role model of health as well. With that, this year I’m working on wellness and feeling good in my body. If weight is lost- ok. If weight is gained in this process- that’s ok too.

Let’s Start at the Beginning

Since I was little, I have always been a big girl. Through high school, I felt like I stood out and was so different because I didn’t fit into the norm there. When I moved to Georgia for college, my whole view changed. I realized that despite what my small-town Idaho beliefs may have been, people see outer beauty very differently! Who knew that not everyone saw tall and thin as the standard of beauty! This opened my eyes to a whole new world of support and a new sort of confidence. I began believing more in myself and my own beauty as my body image became more healthy

A few years ago, I had tonsil surgery that helped me keep from getting sick so much. It helped me feel physically well again. Going back into my last semester of college, doing my research for my senior seminar project, and the stress that I went through dealing with personal issues took a whole different toll on my body.

Moving into summer, despite working out daily and eating healthily, I was gaining the weight I was working on losing! Talk about frustration! Because of all that, my body image suffered and I felt like everything I wore looked bad. Which led to me thinking my whole life was bad. I know it seems like an overreaction but I just couldn’t see past what was going on with my body that I couldn’t control with diet and exercise. Going into the next years I’ve felt more stable and in control, so we’ll see what this new start in this new year has in store for me. I will continue to do my part in keeping healthy and am working on accepting my body the way that it is now.

My Body Has Done So Much for Me!

Knowing that I am SO much more than just my body helps because I can look past the parts that I see as imperfections and know that this body is what allows me to help people daily at work. This body has healed sick children and soothed panicking hearts. This body is the vessel through which I am able to do so much. These legs have walked along dirt roads in Uganda, the house of Gandhi in India, shopped along the Champs-Élysées in Paris, run through wheat fields and bursts of color, and walked through Castles and banana forests alike. This body is what allows me to teach and love on the sweet children I work with on a daily basis. My body has taken me to beautiful places and allowed my brain to learn from all sorts of people and allowed my heart to be filled with love.

My body is just that- the body which contains everything that I am as a person. And I am so much more. I love this body for everything that it is and everything that it lets me be. In seeing my body for what it can do, my body image has been skyrocketing and it makes me want to see everything else my body can do!

What are you most grateful for your body helping you do?

Living Alone, Not Lonely

alone not lonely

I live alone now, but before living in Chicago for some time I’ve always lived with people. A roommate my first year here in Chicago. Roommates (and soulmates) in college and after. And family in between all of that. There are so many benefits to living with people (I’ve written about it, actually!) and I absolutely loved the time I spent with various roommates throughout the years. Coming home to someone else who knows and understands you can be so beneficial.

Now, however, I’ve been living on my own for over a year. I wake up in my apartment by myself, I come home to myself (well, and my cat), and I hang out by myself on many weeknights and weekends. Lonely, yet? Don’t feel bad for me too quickly. There are a lot of benefits to living on my own and learning the difference between being alone and being lonely.

The first couple nights on my own, I’ll admit that I was a bit lonely and woke up to just about every little creak and bump in the night. I triple checked my door and window locks and kept a weapon of sorts under my bed (still do, don’t mess with me). After about the first week, however, I settled into a rhythm. I still make sure to check my locks (don’t worry Mom!) and take precautions as most people do to stay safe, but I don’t get startled by every floorboard settling or horn honking outside. I’ve become more comfortable in my apartment and feel secure, but I’ve grown to feel better about life alone in so many more ways than physical safety.

I enjoy my own company. Yep, I said it. I enjoy reading on my couch in my sweats or watching Netflix by myself. I’m pretty cool with hanging out by with myself. I like that if I don’t want to do the dishes for a couple nights because I’m sick/tired/feeling plain lazy, no one else is going to judge or think less of me. I like that if it’s 11pm and that’s the time I feel like getting up and working out or cleaning the house top to bottom, I’m not going to disturb anyone by turning on my music or the vacuum cleaner. I also like that if I want to watch 4 episodes of Fuller House in a row, I can do just that, whenever I want, without considering what someone else may want to watch or do. Selfish? Maybe. In my world, though, this is a form of self-care. I spend a lot of time with other people so my time alone is treasured and needed so that I can recover and recharge and feel calm, relaxed, focused, and happy.

I teach small children with disabilities all day. I love my job. Goodness knows if you know me you know I love my job and all my kids. It gives me life and fills me with so much joy. After a full day of it, however, I still have a couple hours of paperwork to do every day. Thankfully I’m done with grad school now, but my free hours are still few and far between. I love this busy lifestyle and I enjoy what I do, but when I come home, it is time to focus on myself for a little bit. Don’t get me wrong, I still have a full social life and friends I love dearly. Weekends are full of outings and relaxing after a long week and time spent with other people both in and outside of my apartment. Home, though, when everyone has left for their own houses and I’m left by myself, is a peaceful sanctuary just for me.

I live alone, but I am anything but lonely.

7 Phrases That Have Different Meanings in Chicago

Phrases Different Meaning Chicago

“Oh no! You got a boo boo?” I said on my 2nd day of teaching in Chicago. A student had just come up to me with a scratched knee from falling on the grass. I was so surprised when he gave me a weird look and said “NO!” before running to the other teacher and asking for a Band-Aid.

WHAT DID I DO WRONG?

Turns out, I had asked the kid if he had poop. Here in Chicago, “boo boo” doesn’t mean a small injury to a little kid. It only took me one extra day to figure that one out.

Here are 6 more phrases that mean something different here in Chicago than they do anywhere else I’ve ever lived.

“Push the door up” – Close the door

“I gotta use it” – I need to use the bathroom

“That’s high” – That’s expensive!

“Washroom” – Bathroom

“LSD” – Not a drug. “Riding down LSD” does not actually mean you’re on some type of drug trip. It just means you’re on Lakeshore Drive, a main road along the lake here.

“You’re stupid!” – Does not actually mean someone is questioning your intelligence. Just means “Oh you’re funny!”

Have you hear these in your area of the country? What are some other phrases that mean different things depending on where you live?

5 Thoughts of a Blogger on Hiatus

blog hiatus

Oh…hey there. This thing still works- what do you know? I’m so happy to be jumping right back into the blogging world! I took a bit of a hiatus, but after publishing Tuesday’s post, I feel like I’m back to normal!

All that said- here’s what’s been going through my head while I’ve been away.

ONE: I miss my blog friends. I’ve been lurking around, reading and keeping up from afar, but I miss the interaction and true community of it!

TWO: I should probably write a blog post. I mean, it’s been a while. Has it been too long? Has everyone forgotten about me? Will it still work? Do I even know how to write anymore? What did I write about before?

THREE: I should write about this [insert event-funny thing-concert-festival-etc. here]!! It would be such a great post! I can’t wait to share it!

FOUR: I HAVE SO MANY IDEAS! How in the world will I get them all written out?

FIVE: Yeah, I really need to get back into blogging. I miss it too much. I need to write. So here I am. Committed to popping up around here much more often. Taking it all back to basics. Writing about things I care about and things that make me laugh. Things that help us all live our best lives.

Let’s do this.

I’m so happy to be returning to this and back into all of your lives. TELL ME all the exciting things that have been happening in your lives while I’ve been gone! Leave a comment to let me know!

It’s good to be back.

To Chicago, With Love

chicago love

 

Today, I wanted to share a letter. A love letter. To the city of Chicago.
If you follow me on Instagram, you might have noticed that I’ve started using a new hashtag on photos that show my newfound love and adoration of the city I’m living in.

#ToChicagoWithLove

Oh Chicago,
We’ve had quite an up and down relationship, haven’t we? Our first few months together turned my world upside down, tore me apart, and threw me. But, my, how we’ve grown together. I’ve come to accept you as a part of me and come into my own, while also being a part of you. Throughout the first winter, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it through a second. But, here we are having survived a second winter, and more in love than ever as we enjoy the brief, perfect summer.

That first winter I was cold, unsure of myself, my teaching, and what meaning it all had. I didn’t know if I liked you, Chicago, and I wasn’t quite sure that I liked myself. Then spring arrived. It came in and warmed everything up, renewing and breathing new life into the earth and trees around me. My eyes opened up as I learned about everything you had to offer me. I explored and adventured and discovered so much to love in this city. I let go of unneeded loads, taking so much off of my shoulders that I felt I was being renewed as well. I realized that being alone doesn’t need to mean being lonely, and that time alone can be oh so sweet.

I now love and treasure the precious little alone time I have- I’ve found that I’m quite good company on my own (and with my cat). I’ve moved 3 times since moving here to Chicago, and have finally found a place that I call and consider to be truly a home. My little apartment with its mis-matched furniture and plants has become a gathering place for friends and meals as well as a hideaway when the only voices I want to hear are those on Law and Order: SVU coming from Netflix on my laptop.

brunch chicago

Birthday brunching with the sweet friends this city has brought me.

A year ago, I never knew that it was possible to be this happy or confident. Now, I am so grateful that we’ve been through everything we have- it’s made me a better woman, a stronger woman, and more myself than I’ve ever been. I’ve completely fallen in love with this life that I’m living here and the people I surround myself with.

I don’t yet know if this is a forever thing, sweet Chicago. But I do know that this love has taken a hold on me and has changed me for the better. For that, I am thankful.

To Chicago With Love,
Always,

Top 10 Search Terms That Brought You Here

favorite search terms

How did you find my blog? No, really, I’m curious! I’ve made so many good friends and connections through blogging- it still blows my mind. And most of these good friends I came upon by chance or through other blogs and we just hit it off, it’s amazing. Now some of the people below may not have quite found what they were looking for here, but they made me laugh all the same, so we could probably be friends.

Looking at these search terms are endlessly entertaining to me. These are my absolute favorites from the past few months. They’re great. Really. Look. (My thoughts in italics)

“It’s hard to be me in my position”  (I mean, really though)

“Shemar Moore’s daughter” (I’d rather be his wife, but ya know, to each their own)

“I am willing to work hard” (That’s great! Let’s chat about it)

“I’m really strong biceps” (Pretty sure I’ve never written about this)

“large picture of extrovert” (hmmm…)

“small town girl” (living in a lonely world?)

“creeper van” (most likely coming from my post about Criminal Minds)

“cats and destiny” (this is one of my favorite favorites!)

“I don’t understand fashion” (true)

“have i told you how beautiful you are today” (no, but it’s always good to hear!)


 

Google is a strange, funny little world, isn’t it? Every time I check these stats I end up laughing and trying to figure out how these relate to anything I’ve written. It’s a fun game.

So, how did you find my blog? A random Google search? My mom? (Hi Mom!) Let me know!

For bloggers- what are some of your favorite search terms that have lead to your blog?

#TheStruggle

the struggle

My goodness. This super blood moon thing has me all sorts of mixed up and struggling today. I know I’m not the only one who has those times where I’m just going through “the struggle.”Mostly this means making hard decisions or really adulting.

A lot of times, my thought process goes like this:

Kinda wanna work out,  kinda wanna take a nap.

Kinda wanna go out,  kinda wanna stay in my yoga pants and watch Netflix.

Kinda wanna be around people,  kinda don’t wanna talk at all.

Kinda wanna start dating again,  REALLY don’t wanna deal with jerks.

Kinda feel like I should post an Instagram post because I haven’t in 1058329 days, but I haven’t taken any fun pictures lately.

Kinda wanna get a hair cut, kinda want to grow it out.

And the ultimate:
Kinda wanna get out of bed and get a drink, can’t move the comfortable cat laying on my feet.

So what’s your #TheStruggle ? I feel like that might be one of my most used hashtags on Twitter just because I know someone will be able to relate!