You know what’s great?

The feeling when you remember that you’ve exceeded all your own expectations in absurd and bizarre and wonderful ways.

I can’t trade the mistakes I’ve made for anything else in this world. The resilience I display now is only the product of being let down and letting myself down over the years–paired with the very real experience of…

I was on a roll here, but then I noticed a spider on my wall, so I had to take care of it since I’m pretty terrified of spiders.

Anyway…

What I was getting at is this:

As a twenty-something, unmarried, just out of graduate school, still renting, carrying student debt, just getting back on her feet after several successive relationship fails, etc. and so forth, I am doing an outstanding job of navigating through this life. I could be in better shape, and I could be a better cook. I could volunteer more, and I could write more. I could pick up the performing arts more, and I could take better care of my health.

But overall, I am not failing.

As one of my good friends has recently said, “I have the life I never knew I wanted. God is good.” (Time to plug her blog: So You Wanna Be a Mom; we’ve been friends since 2nd grade, and we are doing different things, and she’s got to be one of the brightest and fieriest spirits this world has seen.)

And it’s true. I never knew I would take to the “big city” the way I have. I never knew I would fall in love with education all over again. I never knew I would rather work in public service than have a yacht. I never knew I would actually get to travel the world.

I caught up with a good friend tonight, after nearly three years of disjointed separation. We have both ended up in lives we never knew existed. And even so, we have ended up happy–not perfect, but happy with the unknowns and the variables we never knew existed.

There have been times in life that I’ve been close to giving up. I’ve been close to throwing in the towel and saying, “This is as good as it gets.” But I realize, day by day, that life doesn’t work that way, unless you let it. If I continue to seek out opportunity, and if I continue to find joy and laughter in the ordinary, and if I continue to explore–through travel and writing and conversation–then I am on my way upwards.

I’ll leave you with one last thought for tonight…

“Life is what you make it. Always has been, always will be.” – E. Roosevelt (or so the internet says)

Goodnight, so long, and until next time.

Here Comes the Sun

Just when I thought the clouds would never break, the summer seems to have arrived (at least for the time being). I might actually be sporting a sunburn, thanks to the relative lack of exposed skin in sunlight and an equal or greater lack of owning sunscreen. (To be completely fair, it’s usually not until I’m suffocating in the Northwest’s initial muggy days that I remember I’ve misplaced my sunscreen from the previous summer.)

This weekend was full of exploration, as I drove down to Bridgeport Village to catch a movie on Friday, and up to the then-unknown-to-me Vancouver Mall for another movie the next night. Yesterday, there was chicken and waffles along with a farmers’ market, Powell’s Books, Deschutes Brewery, and Salt & Straw with some of my grad school friends. Today, there was the Wooden Boat Festival, sailing, and a brief jaunt through the Blues Festival.

I won’t lie–I’m kind of cranky now that I’m sunburned and a wee bit tired, but overall, I am content. I am content that this city has so much to offer me. It’s all I wanted for my first location after graduate school.

Remind me to thank the Universe for this one.

Merveilleux

Thank you, Google Translate.

Do you all know those weekends that make it difficult to return to the work week? Not because of bad choices you made and the resulting angry body, but because of how utterly fantastic the times you had were?

That was this weekend. It was a weekend in which I started it by having dinner with two close friends from Corvallis and a weekend in which I closed by reading a new book in my personal collection. Sandwiched in there was meeting two wonderful CouchSurfers from Marseille, France on their way down to California and a birthday party for another good friend, complete with a round of Cards Against Humanity.

It was a weekend that made me remember that I live to explore the world. Listening to my newly-friend tell me how he’s seen Australia, grew up in France, and was just recently in South Africa made me long to set foot onto a plane or train and on to a new adventure. It made me remember that there is no timeline I’m working with, and that my “one wild and precious life” is brimming with potential. There is a whole world full of amazing people and adventures–and that world is waiting for me.

For now, I have Portland, and I am getting my feet on the ground so that I may fly.

I still hope that I can find that elusive partner, the one who makes my heart skip a beat and engages me in conversation and laughter. He will be the same man that explores the world on his own terms, and maybe sometimes, we will explore together. Maybe he doesn’t need to continually safeguard the universe like The Doctor, but he’s going to be someone extraordinary. I’ll keep being patient and cultivating in myself the love and hope I want to be.

In the same spirit, I did some poking around for doctoral programs today. I was hoping to get a general idea of what exists in the UK and Australia/New Zealand, but what happened was that I found a dream program. It integrates my passion for communication and education, and fuses it with scholarly challenge and the notion that leaders come from understanding these topics. Oh, and it’s abroad. I definitely have some more digging to do, and I don’t anticipate making any moves on advanced study for five to ten years, but I am happily surprised at this find.

So, in the meantime, it’s time to explore. It’s time to learn. It’s time to grow.

(And you know what? It won’t ever not be.)

The Path I’ve Forged

I started to count the boxes today, the boxes that hold all my belongings and a good portion of my life. Most of the boxes are filled with books and kitchen supplies. I can’t wait to unpack my books; there is a set I put aside for the specific purpose of decorating my new office.

I also started to think about how this has all happened so quickly. One minute, I was making an off-hand comment to the Universe, wondering, “When will the winds change?” By that following morning, I had two interviews lined up. And several weeks later, I had an offer to cross back over the bridge into the professional world.

Every now and then, I feel a little start of envy. I see photo albums from faraway lands I still haven’t reached. I hear about the interviews others are getting in faraway corners of the country–and the world. I see their diamond rings and their pretty houses.

But unlike before, the tiny voice that nags me, wondering when I’ll get there, remains silent. Instead, a new voice speaks up:

“I am right where I am supposed to be.”

Portland, here I come. Clark College, here I come.

World, brace yourself. I have arrived.

Buzz Words

“Passion.”

We hear/say/read that word a lot in student affairs. Most of us are in this field because it directly relates to what we feel is a larger purpose in life. We’re in the field because we love education and working with students. We’re passionate about what we do, and we hope that it comes out in the work that we do.

I came across a great article that doesn’t have to do with student affairs in the slightest, but its moral has everything to do with jobs and passion. Via Pithypants, the article “When applause means more than, ‘You didn’t kill us!'” is simply a wonderful read about a job done well.

Also, there are airplanes involved, and I love airplanes. (And I’m especially happy that the airline involved was Alaska Air, since it’s a PNW-based business.)

Beautiful Friendships and NYE

This year marked the first extremely fun New Year’s Eve I’ve had in about 4 years. (Coincidentally, it’s also the first time I’ve been single on NYE in that same amount of time.) I spent it in Seattle, hanging out with college friends and going out like the big girl I am.

Now, first off, NYE is a great reason to dress up, and the last time I wore a party dress for NYE I was a freshman in college. I had a rockin’ red H&M dress that I wanted to wear, but as my luck would have it, it does not zip up past my ribs. I’m starting to think it never has, but my post-finals/holidaze craziness didn’t help much. Regardless, I bought a wonderful back-up outfit and looked stinkin’ cute. It felt amazing to wear a party dress for a good reason. I was dressed to impress myself.

NYE is also an excellent time to indulge in great dinners. We went to Brad’s Swingside Cafe in the Fremont neighborhood and shared a family-style Italian dinner. We shared dishes including a non-fried calamari appetizer, homemade ravioli, pasta dishes with veal, venison, and wild boar, and another seafood dish whose name slips my mind but had huge scallops in it. Never mind that, though– all one should know is that it was absolutely delicious. We also split a magnum bottle of wine between the seven of us. Why wouldn’t we get the “large format” bottle?

There was a lull as we waited for more people to join our party back at a friend’s apartment. In that time, we got down to some jams, and drank some more wine. Eventually, we headed down to The George & Dragon for champagne, as well as to officially welcome 2011 into existence. The pub was surprisingly uncrowded, although it was definitely busy, so we wiggled our way into some tables and camped out there. Although I don’t remember specifics at the moment, I remember laughing a lot and also sharing a special kiss– of friendship– at midnight.

Of course, no Seattle NYE would be complete without a Seattle-style hot dog purchased from a street vendor, so we capped the night by nomming on processed meat, cream cheese, and onions. I threw some kraut and mustard onto my hot dog as well, further ensuring its magicness. Not a word, magicness, but who really cares?

Back in Bellevue, The Nest* was reunited, and we shared one more glass of champagne before having our slumber party. All in all, it was a night that made my heart incredibly happy, and it was also a night that made my face hurt with laughter.

That is the way to ring in the New Year.

Welcome to 2011.

*The Nest is a four-person group of friends consisting of my sophomore year college roommates. We are amazing.