Category Archives: Atlanta

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.

This is Not the Life I Planned

This is not the life I planned

I’m not where I thought I’d be by now.

But that’s ok with me.

Throughout my teenage years, I had a few different versions of where I thought I’d be at this point in my life.

There was option A:  The one where I get married young.
I’d stay home with the kids for a few years. This one is what is common where I grew up in small town Idaho and it works out great for some people.

Option B: The one where I traveled.
See, at 18, I didn’t know what it meant to stay in the United States for more than a year at a time. Post-college, I saw myself continuing this pattern.

Option C: The one with the fancy job.
I’d be working at a big important job by now as a leader in some big industry.

Along with each of these options came a similar timelines. Get a job, get married by 27, baby by 30. Stable. Secure. Settled. 

The thing is though, I didn’t plan for setbacks or mistakes. I didn’t plan for life to get in the way. I didn’t plan on learning more and having my eyes and heart opened to new possibilities. It’s funny, because we can plan and plan as much as we want. In the end, the universe gives us what we need and takes us down paths we never imagined.

I never saw myself where I am now. I never thought I’d be single for over a year, much less by choice (another post for another day).

I never saw myself feeling so fulfilled by my work that seems so simple from an outside perspective, but means so much and matters in this world so much to those of us involved.

I never saw myself living in Chicago. Alone.

I never knew I’d be this content with NOT knowing what comes next. And that’s the thing I’m learning most- it’s ok. Not too long ago, I would have been terrified of not knowing what comes next. Now, though, I know that things will turn out as they are meant to. I know my life will go down the path it is supposed to, because I will continue to grow and learn just what it is I need to get down that path.

This isn’t the life I planned.

This isn’t where I thought I’d be by now.

But this is exactly where I’m meant to be.

And it is good. So good.

A Different Kind of Independence Day

independence day domestic abuse

I’ve been quiet in this space for a while, taking an unintentional hiatus through the last months of this school year. I think I’ve had such a hard time writing anything because in my heart I knew the words I needed to write, but I was too afraid to let them go out into the world. Today, it’s time.

I moved to this city in a mix of excitement and feelings of absolute terror. I was lost in the beginning stages of a completely unhealthy relationship. The “I’m so sorry” and “It’ll never happen again” sayings were plentiful and I believed it. I didn’t see the push to move here as the isolating move that it was- I couldn’t have. And I was silent about it, unable to tell anyone what was happening. In public we had the perfect relationship. In public, he treated me like the only woman in the world. I felt ashamed of myself and it got worse as time passed and his words and actions made me feel more small and insignificant.

After moving here it all became more frequent and more severe. He became a man I no longer knew, but would fight for all the same. His actions became unspeakable, and yet I stayed. I stayed and fought for too long. And he controlled and hurt again and again until I finally was able to stand up. To drive away and not go back. To tell small pieces of what happened to close friends. To live again.

Now, I refuse to live in the shadow of his abuse. I refuse to live in this city in fear or seeing him or being reminded that he had that kind of control. He doesn’t have it anymore.

I do.

I moved here because of one of the greatest opportunities I could ask for. A prestigious program that allows me to get this master’s degree while still teaching the children that I love. I am in a city full of beauty and culture and am surrounded by people who I love and who love me back.

I may have come to Chicago partially under the worst of circumstances, but now, a year later, I’m ok. This city is not his. I am not his.

This is mine.

#HappyIndependenceDay

#HappyAnniversaryToMe

Coffee Date | On my heart

coffee date

Join me for a bit, won’t you? I suppose it’s time for a coffee date to do some explaining and some chatting. As I sit in this airport on my way from Atlanta to Idaho, I could use a good cup of coffee and some time sitting comfortably, so let’s just imagine we’re there instead, ok?

If you follow me on social media, you know I’m on Spring Break right now (teacher perks!) and I took some time to travel to Atlanta to visit friends and today I’m heading home to Idaho to see my family for the rest of the week. Then I’ll be heading back to Chicago to finish out the school year! This trip has already been a whirlwind, and it has been the most healing, healthy thing in the world for me. After being sick for almost a month, I’m finally feeling like I’m on my way to healing and feeling better.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that being busy is nothing new for me. I thrive off of being busy, but maybe I’ve taken on a little too much lately. I’m now working 6 days a week teaching. I absolutely love teaching and working with all my kids, but of course, this is a job that doesn’t end when the time clock officially says it does. It begins at least an hour beforehand and usually allows me to leave about an hour after- only to go home and continue the planning and preparation there. It is the best job, and I know I am lucky to have it, but oh, it is exhausting. Pile all of this on top of grad school classes and attempting to keep up with that, and I’m wiped.

If we were having coffee, I’d admit that I’m feeling like it’s all a bit much. Emotionally, it is tiring because as much as I do and as much as I feel like I am working as much as I can, there is so much more to be done and so much that I simply can’t do. There is a certain type of guilt that comes along with that that I try to ignore and logically know shouldn’t be there. Then again, we all know that sometimes feelings don’t follow logic.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that being in Atlanta these past few days has left everything in me pulling me back toward this city. From the climate to the culture, this is my city. This is where I became an adult and while I am grateful for the opportunity to be living in Chicago now, I’m just not convinced that Chicago is for me long term.

If we were having coffee, I’d let you in on the fact that I’ve been thinking a lot about the different relationships in my life lately. I’ve been in my element with my people here in Atlanta, and it has been beautiful. These are the people that I can skip the small talk with and get straight down to what’s on my heart and what I need to talk through. These are the people that get it, and get me on every level. Of course I have good friends in Chicago that I love dearly, but it’s not quite the same. My Chicago friends are some of the best people I’ve ever met and I am lucky to have them, but again, it’s just a little different.

Now, it’s important for me to know what’s going on in your life as well. How are you, really? What’s been on your heart lately?

5 years!

High School to College

High School graduation to college graduation with my big brother!

How in the world has it been 5 years since I’ve graduated high school? I know it’s not a big milestone to some, but something hit me after writing my last post. I also came home to Idaho for a visit and received a letter. From myself. 5 years ago and about to graduate high school.

A lot of things have changed in 5 years. I know I have changed and grown and accomplished and my dreams have changed. However, there are some things that just haven’t changed. Today, I’d like to share a few quotes from that letter. It’s so strange to read this letter that in so many ways sounds just like me but at the same time, that girl seems like a completely different person.

On travel:

“That night, something changed inside of you, grabbed onto something there and didn’t let go. You made a realization that night. You knew from then on that this would be a big part of who you are. You are a person who travels, a person who experiences as much as you can, and a person who isn’t letting that go. Please don’t let that go. ”

On perfection:

“You don’t have to be perfect all the time… You don’t always have to go further and do even better. Take things more as they come. You just need to do the best you can do, and be happy with that. Do all that you can, and that will be just fine, even if it’s not perfect.”

On worry:

“It may seem like the simplest lesson to learn- don’t worry about the things you can’t change. Don’t try to control the things that are beyond your power. You can handle anything, really. Because you can’t control what happens about some things, you just have to change your opinion about the situation to make it bearable.”

On the future:

Overall, this year, and all your years at Genesee Schools have been full. This year in particular has been a year of emotional growth and maturity as I’ve prepared for my life in the future- your life. In five years, I see myself finishing my degree and working. I think I’ll be living in Atlanta still, and figuring out where to go to graduate school and if I really wat to go to graduate school. Is that what you are doing now? I hope you are still passionate about whatever you are doing, and above all, I hope you are enjoying and loving life in the same way I am now, if not even more so.

On forgiveness:

If you’ve made mistakes, don’t worry. Remember- its ok to not be perfect. I forgive you.

On being a transplant | Travel Tuesday

Transplant

My first home- Idaho

A lot of the time I think and write about travel, I tend to only focus on the international travel I’ve done. The traveling I’ve done overseas has been great to me and is a huge part of who I am. However, I think that I am doing myself (and you, my readers) a sort of disservice by not also acknowledging and talking about travel within the borders of our own country. This travel has had an equally huge impact on me and has allowed me to grow and change just as much.

To begin talking about this travel, I think it is best to talk about where I’ve lived and the influence moving across the country (a few times) has had on me.


I am an Atlantan. When people ask me where I live I automatically answer with Atlanta. This is my home and where I’ve spent my adult years. This is where I’ve loved and lost and learned and worked the most. However, when I think of home, this isn’t the only place that flashes in my mind.

My story began in Idaho. In some ways, my story is still continuing there through my family. They are my life-blood and biggest supporters (hi Mom!). I lived in Idaho until I was 18, minus the one year I spent in Mexico during high school. Idaho shaped me and raised me and have me the foundation upon which I’ve built my life. I am an Idahoan.

Moving to Atlanta was quite possibly the best decision I ever made. I became who I am here. However, this is not where I’m from and in a lot of ways, I think living far away from where you grew up makes you a little different than those who’ve stayed close to where they were raised. Not better or worse, just different.

It makes you 2 different people, all at the same time. I am the small town girl who is probably a little too trusting of the world and sees life in a simple way with an open heart. But I am also the woman in the city who knows how to navigate her way with the awareness, confidence, and speed required for life around here. I am the Northern girl with a love for the beauty of snow and the hills and fresh air, and I am the Southern woman who doesn’t like the cold and prefers to sit by the pool in the sun after a day at the office in a suit.

You get the picture. They are both parts of who I am. I’ve been able to pick what works best and feels best to me based upon how I was raised and how I’ve adjusted as I’ve grown.

In this same light, I know that Chicago will change me in some ways as well. I will be learning the culture of a new city, and growing as a person learning to navigate this world.

Soon I will call Chicago home.

Though I’m not from there and won’t claim to be, my transplant status gives me a unique view of home. I see home as a feeling, not a place. It’s a feeling I had with my host family in Mexico, playing Wii with my host in France, cooking dinner with my Nun Mother in Uganda, etc. It is a feeling of peace, of calm, of home.

I feel like I’ve gotten to a point of rambling with this post, but I’m interested to know what you all think. Where have you found home? Did you stay in one place all your life or move around? What place do you consider to really be your home?

Travel Tuesday

These are a few of my favorite things | Brunch Edition

If you’ve met me, you know I love me a good brunch. I mean, what’s not to love? Breakfast food? I don’t have to wake up early for it on the weekend? Eating with people I love? Yes, yes, and yes!

Last night I had dinner and drinks with some of my best ladies here in Atlanta to celebrate life- this is different for us, because we’re usually a brunch crowd!

friends

From top to bottom, on left- Barret, Laura, Victoria, Megan. Right- Lola, Adrienne, Me, Tempie!

So, here are my top 5 fav brunch places in Atlanta!

These are in no particular order; they’re all pretty equally delicious!

Flying Biscuit! Ohmygoodness. One of my favorite places in Atlanta. I have never been disappointed here and we always leave full. Their french toast with orange and raspberry glaze is to die for.

– Cafe 640. A small little place off Highland Ave. with a tiny parking lot but if you’re there on Sunday the street parking is free! Everything there is delish but if you’re being really bad the chicken biscuits = YUM.

10th and Piedmont. Cute little modern-y place with live music on Sunday afternoon. Their chicken and waffles are corn dog style, salads are HUGE, and the gravy they put over their biscuits is right on point.

-Pastries a Go-Go. Located in cute little downtown Decatur. For the longest time I walked right by thinking it was always closed, but it was so worth it when I decided to venture in. It’s a small and intimate place and the meals are HUGE so you will have plenty of leftovers for later.

– Mama’s kitchen. Nope, not a restaurant and not in Atlanta, so I’m cheating, but it’s my most favorite of all places ever. My Mama makes the best french toast you will ever eat and if you’re lucky on a Sunday my Daddy might have made some hash browns and bacon or sausage. Mmm. If you’re ever in Idaho….

Polar Vortex in the South!

Too familiar for comfort!

Too similar for comfort! Picture via.

If you’ve been anywhere on social media, the news, or outside lately, you know that it is COLD. And oh yeah, here in Atlanta we got one of the worst snow storms of our generation! Though it is humorous to look at this picture comparing The Walking Dead intro to the actual picture of people all trying to leave the city, it wasn’t so funny for people stuck on the road!

Now, I realize for those of you in the north, it’s easy to scoff at a couple inches of snow as nothing big. And it’s easy to scoff at people not knowing how to drive in the snow when it’s something that comes almost second nature to those of us who grew up with it.  I know, trust me, I grew up in Idaho, I know.

But here’s the thing that makes what happened a big deal- there’s no way for people to have that experience here. Snow and ice aren’t a thing that happens except for once every couple years. Not so second nature. And cabin fever is SO real after a couple days stuck at home. 

As our city gets back up and running, my heart goes out to those who were stuck out on the road for hours on end and who slept in their cars or in stores because they couldn’t get home. Thank goodness now our roads are getting back to normal and all the children have been reunited with their families.

For those of you up there where this is a normal occurrence- stay safe and warm! I’ve had enough snow to last me a while, hopefully the weather agrees!

I’m employed again! And it feel so good to say that.

It’s been a long time coming, but as promised, here’s what’s going on in my world!

First and foremost, I got a job! I am now working in City Hall in the mayor’s office! I am beyond excited and extra thankful for my friend Megan who said my name in her office enough times to get her boss to think of me when a job came up! I’ve only been here about a week, but so far I’m loving it. The people in my office are so incredibly kind and hard working, I know I’ll be able to learn a lot from them. And apparently they like me so far because most of this week I’ve been the only one in the office and I already feel confident with what I’m doing. Plus, the view from my desk isn’t too shabby either!

This is seriously what I get to look at all day, every day! When it's not the holiday season, it's a fountain. Gorgeous.

This is seriously what I get to look at all day, every day! When it’s not the holiday season, it’s a fountain. Gorgeous.

One thing that is very different from any job I’ve had before is the dress code! From my nursing job in scrubs to my private school teaching job in casual clothes, being in an extremely professional environment is new. I’m slowly going to be building up a work wardrobe, but for now I have just enough of the basics to get by. Have any suggestions for me about dressing professionally on a budget? Please feel free to share them! Again- I am OH so thankful for my sweet friend Megan who also happens to have a fabulous wardrobe and allows me to borrow her clothes, and shoes, and apartment!

Additionally, I’ve started the apartment hunting process. Living with my best friend is fun but I know I need my own place. Both of us enjoy time together but also enjoy our space and alone time. The options are a little overwhelming but I feel like I’m narrowing it down. It’s hard to decide if I want to live in a place close to work or a place a little further out that’s bigger and has more options. Decisions, decisions. I’ve fallen in love with one place that’s just sliiiiightly outside of my budget range so I’m considering moving some things around. But in reality I know I’ll be happy and be able to make a home out of wherever I end up. It’ll be fun to get all set up. Next week begins the tours, then deciding after that! I’ll make sure to post pictures of before and after my move in too! I’m so glad that my internet community will be sharing this experience with me as well!

That’s all that’s going on in my little corner of the world. Catch me up on what’s been going on in yours?

The story of a girl who couldn’t make up her mind. Ever.

Aka the story of how I’m now living in my 3rd home in as many months and now there’s no turning back. For a while.

As you know by now, life post-college graduation has not exactly been the fairy tale I might have imagined my sophomore year of college. (I thought I’d be living in North Carolina and married over this past summer and life would be moving in a TOTALLY different direction. HA, 20 year old me was so silly.) Honestly, I could not be more grateful for the way my life has changed over these past couple of years but it still leaves me with immense feelings of uncertainty. Is this where I’m supposed to be living? Is this the path I belong on? Hello, confusion!

What I do know is that I am incredibly lucky that my past experiences have given me the confidence and ability to just pick up my life in a matter of days, pack everything I own into my car, and go. It’s a wild ride.

After my summer of teaching, I packed up and moved home to take care of my Daddy. Though I know I was helpful to provide rides and a rest for the rest of my family, I also know that I wasn’t in the place I was supposed to be. My heart wasn’t there. And that’s ok.

I love my father with everything I have. I have him in my heart forever, and his writing tattooed on my skin. He will forever be my number 1 man, and my biggest cheerleader in this life. I know he understands my need to leave my small town in Idaho and knows my heart is in the city with more opportunities for education and for work that I will be able to love. I still talk to him regularly and I know the updates on his condition, and am in close contact with his doctors. At this point, there is nothing more I could do, and I just have to trust that they will make my father the most comfortable that they can in this time.

So I picked up and drove to Atlanta, back again for good this time. Or until I save up enough money for another move. For now, I am relying on the generosity of sweet friends to provide housing for me until I can find myself a job and an apartment on my own, and enjoying time recovering mentally and spiritually from these past few months, and reconnecting with friends that fill my soul with so much happiness.

This change and transition into a new stage of life is bittersweet, but the moments of joy make it worth it. And as bad as I might think things may be at times, I remember the words of my favorite professor as I complained once to her about not knowing what to do with my life- I am lucky. I am so very blessed to have these options. To have choice. I have the privilege of deciding what I will do and who I will be. There are so many who don’t have that, and I am lucky. This reminder to be grateful echoes through my mind any time I start to think negatively.