Serenity

Major updates since I haven’t written since January!

February was my very first SEAHO. I LOVED it. I presented solo for the first time ever at a conference. My presentation was, “Pregnant and Parenting Students: An Overlooked Population” and still was as intriguing to folks as it was when I co-presented it at NASPA 2016. Still a topic thats near and dear to my heart because most professionals have not given this group enough consideration in the policies we maintain on campuses. I hope to help change that at some point in the future.

March-May was spent closing my building for the first time as a professional. I said goodbye to my staff, which was extremely bittersweet. The day that both of my grads left is one I will never forget. For what its worth, this year may have been full of challenges and opportunities but I can look back and say it was a good year.

In mid-May, my summer collateral experience began. I had the opportunity to work with Meghan and her Vols @ Home staff. The Vols @ Home staff spends their summer working with pieces of orientation. They do a student presentation (that they write the content for themselves), help with a parent presentation by answering questions, help with orientation check in, and run housing tours in 9 out of our 11 residence halls. Meghan hired 11 of the best individuals one could possibly want to work with. I have learned some lessons this summer, found some confidence in myself, learned to trust that others have my best interest at heart, and had a phenomenal time.

My collateral and my experience working with Meghan came as an answer to prayer. I had been praying for an experience that would show me what in student affairs I enjoyed doing if it was not typical Res Life. I also prayed for a mentor. Praying for a mentor is something I had been doing since my first year of grad school. I knew that God would place both of these things in my life in His timing, little did I know they would come together. Meghan kind of swooped in at a time in life where I wasn’t sure where my next turn would be. Little did I know, she would be a driving force in the biggest learning curve I’ve ever had. Knowing that she truly had my best interest in everything she did or had me do was very comforting in times of challenges. Intertwined in the many lessons I’ve learned from Meghan, was the one I had learned from my prayers being answered, and answered together. Everything is in God’s timing and that is perfect always.

“God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.”

I have learned very recently that it is far more beneficial to put all of my energy into the things I can change, than being angry about the ones I cannot change. I also have taken up various forms of exercise to get rid of my stress and relieve some of the negative emotions I have been feeling. Running today was immensely helpful and improved my mood so much. I will never be someone who “likes” running but I will be someone who “needs” to run because of the way it makes me feel.

Jan-July has been a whirlwind but one I am glad to have experienced. I have learned so much!

I can’t wait to see whats in store for the next year. Running a single gender building, only 11 RAs and 1 grad. Time spent learning things from others in my department. A new conference to travel to. Its all so exciting!

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Adulting

In my time as a professional, my personal development as an adult has been astonishing. I think as a student in undergrad and grad school I was very irresponsible with money, time, and my effort in relationships.

I have been following Dave Ramsey and learning about money. I have never felt like I had money. I wanted to at the very least pay off the things I owed money on. I’m not proud of being in debt by any means, but I am proud of my progress.

In August of 2016, I owed money to 6 things (not including my car). I was paying over $1,000/month as a combined total of the minimum monthly payments on these six things.

Now in January 2017, I only money to 3 of those things and am paying MORE than monthly payments to pay them off faster.

Without Dave Ramsey and his Baby Steps program, I would not be where I am. At times it has felt like a losing battle, but I am seeing progress with the snowball method so fast that you can’t deny the progress. In June 2018 (or before) I will be debt free (car and student loans don’t count because of their massive sizes)! After that, I will NEVER get myself into the hole I was in, and I will forever try to help others see that it is not a good place to be, but that you can get out it just takes work and time!

As per my time and effort in relationships, I have learned the hard way this year that sometimes no matter how hard you try to do the right thing by people, that it does not always work out in your favor. I have had to distance myself from someone in my life that I never thought I would need too. I hate learning lessons the hard way but sometimes thats the way life is. I am sad that relationships have had to end the way they have but I am an adult and I will not be accused of things I didn’t do, or made to feel like I have mal-intent where there is none.

 

All in all 2016 was a MASSIVE growing year and I know 2017 will only prompt more growing. I have always heard the late twenties are a huge time of growth and self-discovery. I fully believe it. I am excited to see what 2017 brings!

Serenity,Courage, Wisdom

“God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.”

This prayer has rung in my ears many times over in the past three months. Tonight was no different. I forget a lot of the time in the busyness of my days and the chaos that a gigantic building brings that it is important to remember to listen for Gods leading and wisdom.

I have had a huge learning curve in the past three months. Bigger than I ever imagined. Its not always been happy, fun, and rewarding. At times, it’s been difficult, aggravating, and draining. I am glad to have had some of these experiences so far and not so fond of others but all will play a part in my career and have had a hand in shaping it thus far.

Having 20 RAs and 2 grads is a huge responsibility that I don’t take lightly. The fact that 22 individuals and their development was entrusted to me is huge as a brand new professional. While my staff doesn’t always see eye to eye, most of the time I can easily remember why I love working with them. I know the fun, the challenges, and the overall experiences of supervising these 22 individuals will greatly help whatever my next position may be.

It’s amazing to me how much can change in a year. This time last year I was a 2nd year grad student finishing a law class, and freaking out about comps. Now I am a full time professional in a new state, who is almost done with her first semester. If you had asked me where I would be right now, TN and UT would not have been my answer. However, I think it was an answer to a prayer I didn’t have to say. Being here and being able to have Elise and Steve close again has been a huge blessing. They don’t know this but I appreciate them so much and the 5 years I’ve known them. Elise has watched me go from a Hall council member to RA to grad student to now a professional. I’d love to see my development over the years from her vantage point.

I am not sure what will happen in the next 4 weeks before winter break hits for the students but I am ready to tackle it and move into spring semester! I am also looking forward to Thanksgiving break, and having 11 days at home for the holidays in December!

 

First Day of School

I have made it through HD training, AHD training, RA training AND the most chaotic move in I have ever been tasked with running. I feel rather proud but I know it is just the beginning of what is to come. A huge building comes with lots of issues. I’m still new and we are working on what to do for any new issue that comes up.

Today has been hard. Today I am very overwhelmed, stressed, and homesick. It ebbs and flows but today it all hit. I know this is part of the transition and it will ease with time,but for now it is difficult. I’m not even homesick for home, I’m homesick for College Station, TX. I miss my friends there, my co-workers, and my old RAs. I’ve lost friends that I had while I was there but for the most part those relationships are still in tact.

I miss them but I have gained some amazing relationships in TN too. Camille has taken me under her wing and helped me with almost everything to this point. I am honest when I say, without Camille I could not do my job. Camille and I have become friends, and she makes being here a lot more fun! Nequel is another coworker of mine that is amazing. She and I have become fast friends, and I greatly enjoy being around her and learning from her. They are two of the reasons I chose to come to UTK.

Tomorrow is the first back to school day that I do not have class. Its very odd but also oddly exciting. I can’t relate to having tests and papers anymore. That doesn’t mean work isn’t stressful but it changes the way I interact with the world. I am excited that I am not in school anymore. Life as a full time working adult is so much more fun than school ever was. I know I’ll go back for my Ph.D at some point but for now I will enjoy the free time that comes with adult life.

I can’t wait to have more to document. I want my first #SApro year to be recorded so I can see how much growth has happened between July 5th, 2016 and July 5th, 2017. I’ve already grown as a professional so I am excited to see what lies ahead.

#SApro #FirstYear #UTKhousing

New Adventures

I have been waiting to write this post for a week or so but I feel as though now is a good time to put my thoughts out there.

When I left Texas, I knew it would be difficult. I didn’t exactly want to leave. I didn’t get to see Sara and Jacob before I left, I never saw Erin before I left, among other things. I left being excited for new things but sad because I’m a realist and I knew all of my relationships were about to change. Though, I was impressed there was not a tear shed when I drove across the country. This was a big change, but one I knew I could handle. Not all change is a grizzly bear, sometimes it is a teddy bear. Thanks for that Ann Marie!! 🙂

When I got to TN, I was so excited and ready. My apartment is better than I could have ever imagined. I feel very blessed and lucky to be working where I am. My building is full of surprises and while big and different from other halls, my experience here will be great.

I know full well that this is exactly where I am supposed to be. Thats not something I expected to be able to say this soon. I always am nervous and stressed and overwhelmed during training….I am none of those things this time. I have a confidence in myself and my abilities that I have never had before. I don’t know where it came from but I think it is here to stay. My OneWord365 was perseverance and I know I chose it with good reason, because it takes perseverance to get through all the changes 2016 has put in front of me.

I can’t wait to get my grads and my RA’s here and the year started! I’m very excited for all that the future holds!!

#SApro #NewAdventures #FirstYearSApro

Year of Yes

I have listened to Shonda Rhimes “Year of Yes” book twice in the last year. It is a life changing book. I highly recommend you read it!

Shonda did a year of yes after her sister muttered 6 words, “you never say yes to anything.” Shonda spent a year saying yes to anything, anything that scared her, that terrified her, that forced her to grow. This and the effects from it are what the book speaks too. I have never been so inspired. Shonda knows how to speak to my introvert soul that just doesn’t like change.

I am facing so much change in the coming months and while I know I can do this, and I know it will be fine, I’m nervous. I am leaving people I wasn’t prepared to leave, and moving on to a new state. So, I need to do something inspiring as I begin my professional career, and get to “start over” one more time.

I am going to spend the next year saying yes to everything that scares me, yes to everything that makes me nervous. Yes to everything that forces growth. Yes to every opportunity that is presented to me. For an entire year, this is what I will do. I am determined to come out of this year of yes as a different person. A more confident, available, competent person.

 

Y’all read it. Hold me accountable. My Year of Yes: 06/01/16-05/31/17

I wish y’all the best most inspiring year you can have as well! Maybe you will join me on your own year of yes!

May 3rd

May 3rd has been a terrible day since 2003. May 3rd, 2003 is the day my grandma passed away. It is a day that I can tell you everything about. Being woken up by my mom and my friends mom (I had spent the night away so my mom could be at the hospital), and at age 12, woke up and cheerily asked if Grandma had come home, because the deal the night before was I could stay until she came home. I’ll never forget the look on my moms face who told me right then and there, that she was gone. I am the baby of my family out of the grandchildren, so my older cousins who were there all understood everything that was happening while I did not. I grew up REALLY really fast after that. I was likely one of the most independent 13 year olds there was back then, because I had to be. Every year on May 3rd, my entire family gets quiet. No one wants to cause anyone else anymore heartbreak. We all know what happened, and no one talks about it. We all grieve separately. I grieve every year for about a week following May 3rd. I out of my entire family got the LEAST amount of time with my grandma, I was the one that she missed every graduation for, I was the one she never saw get a drivers license. I was the one who missed out on a lot of things I wish she would have been there for. I cannot believe its been 13 years. Graduation is coming up, and I’ve always wondered what she would say if she had seen any of my graduations. I wonder if she’d be proud. I like to think she would be.

However, this year May 3rd was made even worse, when my world collapsed for a second time, as my friend Liz Lothrop passed away. I had spent months logging into Facebook praying not to see a post like that, but I knew it would be the first thing I saw when it happened. On May 3rd, 2016 I was right. I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. I have not yet found my footing on how to grieve. I have not done this as an adult, or away from my family. I had to find people to lean on (thanks Sara) here in Texas, who love me like I’m their family. I went to meetings and wasn’t upset, which caused people to be confused on how I was/still am feeling. I have to work, I have to close my building, I have to interview for jobs. But I’m doing that with a broken heart, that hasn’t had anytime to grieve yet. I’m still figuring out what it looks like to do this.

I am incredibly mad at God. I had been frustrated and angry at him for other reasons, but after May 3rd I find myself falling to my knees trying to find out why this was his will. I know Lizzie is up there watching us all and wanting us to be happy that she is healed and not in pain, but I was praying for her miracle here on earth. I absolutely love the Lothrops and watching them begin walking this path is unbelievably difficult. No parent should have to bury their child. So I’m mad, and I feel validated in being mad at God. I have lost my way in my faith over some of my recent trials and tribulations in life but I have to believe all of these things are a part of his divine plan. Lizzie favorite verse says it best: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” Proverbs 3:5-6.

I miss them both so very much, and my heart is still broken and I’m still grieving for Liz. Its going to take time. The coincidences between their passings that I’ve seen, make me think they are up there laughing and fellowshipping together. Its what I’d like to think anyway.

grief