Forget Me Not

Who I am and what I mean to each and every one of you is something different.

I’m awesome.
I’m trouble.
I’m loved.
I’m an inspiration.
I’m your best friend.
I’m gorgeous.
I’m down-to-Earth.
I’m funny.
I’m intense.
I’m intimidating.
I’m tough.
I’m happy.

I am all of this and more.

And who do I want to be?

That’s a really good question.

I think I want to be everything I listed and more.

I am many things all at once, and to be loved and appreciated for all of that is one of the greatest things I could hope for.

To deny any one of my traits and characteristics would be to deny the full effect.

So, here I am. Take it, or leave it.

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A Few of My Favorite Things

In response to a week that seems to be laced with tragedy, heartbreak, and downright scary moments, I’ve been spending time counting my blessings, reflecting on the good that I still see every day in my world. It’s not a surprise that I look inward before looking outward, and as we’ve been encouraged to combat evil with goodness, I think it’s time to share some of my favorite things about my exercise in existence.

These are a few of my favorite things:
* Phone calls from my best friends for absolutely no reason
* The songs birds sing early in the morning
* When two dogs are visibly overjoyed to meet each other in passing
* Getting the feels for a guy (yes, really)
* …And the little skip in my heartbeat when I see his name pop up on my phone’s screen
* …And realizing that, even at 27, dealing with crushes never gets easier
* Booking plane tickets because no matter the trouble faced in securing that flight and that rate, I know I’m going on an adventure
* Speaking of planes–watching planes take off and land
* Having conversations with students who may have found themselves in academic trouble but are returning to school–and when I ask them about their goals and dreams, they almost make me cry because it’s so sincere
* When I’m at my parents’ house and I get my hands on old photo albums–especially my baby albums
* Text messages from my mom
* Hugs
* Knowing that I have been born into one of the absolute best and most unique families out there
* The feeling I get when I’ve finally completed a research paper or conference proposal, and I know my topic and the research and my writing are all solid, and I just know it’s the best paper/proposal I’ve ever composed
* The exclamations from my coach, teammates, and myself that occur when I hit a new skill or PR at the gym
* Sitting down at the piano with old sheet music and reading through the pieces
* Dancing
* Home-cooked meals
* A perfectly-crafted whisk(e)y ginger
* Sunsets
* Sunrises
* Waking up in a new city
* Hand-written letters
* Memories that are so good that I can’t help smiling and/or laughing at the recollection
* Trying my hardest to live a life of purpose and value because the time I have here is not infinite

Pigeon Point

Stay safe. Reach out. And go forth and do good.

Declare Your Intent

I find myself saying something similar all the time in my current job, asking students to look forward–sometimes years ahead–to tell me what it is they want to do. Granted, in the context of a program or a degree, the intent is a little less vague. But what happens after that intent is uncharted.

Every now and then, I like to look at my very first blog post here. I occasionally log into my old Livejournal to read my much older musings. I also enjoy reading up on acquaintances’ blogs, relishing how much they have grown since I knew them in junior high science class. It is amazing to see potential grow–and how it grows in the most unexpected ways.

I try to remember to inspire myself week to week. I draft conference proposals. I wake up to write down research prompts. Sometimes I write clever comedy bits or chapters for a book in progress. I read travel magazines. I find myself mesmerized by the airplanes arriving and leaving Portland International Airport. I almost can’t wait to arrive at the airport and wait my way through security because beyond those metal detectors, my big shiny metal birds live, waiting to take me somewhere different, somewhere new, or somewhere beloved.

The other day, I explained to Snugz that it’s entirely surprising to myself that I crave travel so much. Just a few years ago, I was still afraid to leave my hometown, but bit by bit, step by step, I explored more of my corner of the world. And then, when I outgrew that corner, I sought out new adventures. Now, it’s nearly insatiable; it’s not always practical, given the real world of bills and responsibility and budgets, but that doesn’t stop me from dreaming. It doesn’t stop me from requesting tourism journals and browsing CouchSurfing for possible hosts and friends. It doesn’t stop me from connecting with others who have found their way across this world.

In other words, I have become unstoppable.

Tonight, as I pushed myself to finish the Work-out of the Day without stopping, without walking those torturous laps around the block, I showed myself that it’s not just one aspect of myself that refuses to keep going. I have had the sky open up and dump its worst on me. I’ve had the universe decide I was its punching bag.

Yet I’m still here.

So, thanks for sticking with me, even though this was supposed to be a career blog which then turned into a log of my Quarter-Life Crisis, and then my graduate capstone and academic recovery, and then my personal dumping ground, and now, a healing journal.

And here’s the thing: through it all… life just keeps getting richer and more meaningful and more wonderful.

Happy Friday.

Returning to the Stars

“One may tolerate a world of demons for the sake of an angel.”
from Doctor Who (Series 2, Ep. 4 – “The Girl in the Fireplace”)

Does anyone else remember my letter to the Universe from 2011? It’s a perfect glimpse into my life when all that was seemingly good shattered, one thing after another. That pattern continued, and it continued for months afterwards.

Now, nearing the end of 2012, I still walk cautiously through many of my adventures. I am learning more about myself, primarily in terms of finance and budgeting, as well as health and wellness. I am much more aware and in-tune with my mood shifts (not swings, thankfully), and luckily, I am nurturing a new-ish relationship in which I can admit to not always being sunshine and rainbows. I talk about how I’m feeling more openly, which is scary, but it’s almost scarier seeing how it comes so naturally.

When you’ve dealt with so much utter crap over the past few years, you almost expect the worst. However, my transition to Portland has been very good for my soul. I still have some nights when I want to curl up and do nothing and just hope that I win the lottery in the morning; despite that, I persist. I persist because I have good people in my life, and I choose to focus on the good. Something I have realized about myself is that I have little tolerance for toxic people, and my biggest disappointments come when I realize someone I trusted and cared for ends up being a soul-sucker. The thing is, those people are gone from my life.

And I know for others, I’m a soul-sucker; there are some people with whom I will always have negative energy, and although we may be on good terms now, there is no need to be friends nor to revisit the bad moments in my head every time I see them. They are freed from my life, and while I miss certain aspects, it’s better to lead separate–and separated–lives.

It’s much better to put effort into keeping life-givers around. For example, one of my best friends lives hours and hours away (by plane); we logged on to FaceTime to catch up this weekend, and it was just as good as when we were in college and met every week to get coffee together. It’s not easy to keep relationships sound and meaningful across time zones, but it’s incredibly worth it for the right people. It’s also worth it to put for the right effort for the right people regardless if they live a block away or half a world away. Friendship, then, is becomes transcendent of time and space; it becomes something ethereal.

Whose energy keeps you going in this lifetime? And why is it important to continue to grow those relationships?

This Grand Adventure

Hiking at Coldwater Lake near Mt. St. Helens

Sometimes, the journey is difficult, with uphill climbs that test your endurance and patience.

Sometimes, the weather doesn’t cooperate, and you have to be confident that blue skies are always overhead.

Sometimes, you don’t know what to expect, and you can either fear that or embrace it.

Sometimes, when you reach the peak, you are greeted with laughter and relief and an understanding that you made it through all the challenges just to reach something amazing, even if it was unknown or seemingly impossible.

Even when the going gets tough, I just need to keep on pushing onward.

Unstoppable.

Rear-view Mirror: Week Six

I started this week in Vegas. I’m ending it early in Corvallis, although I just read a particularly narrow-minded “Letter to the Editor” on a friend-of-a-friend’s Facebook page. “It hits the nail on the head!” (If you like one-sided polarized babble, it sure does.)

I’m going to try and not discuss the ensuing comment thread, in which backwards application of the perspective lends resulted in the conclusion of “My life experiences are different, and saying that only white people can be racist isn’t true, and liberals are mean.” Political polarization is really driving me nuts, so I’ll just continue in my brain-washed, overly-critical analysis of my actions and how they affect the world around me.

ANYWAY.

Week Six. Like I said, I started it in Vegas. In a nutshell, I took a vacation to the desert, completed an assignment ahead of time so that I could fully enjoy my vacation, dressed up as Scar from the Lion King, and laid out in the sun on Halloween. I got away from some of the stress I’m experiencing in Corvallis, and other than send a few emails and polish my paper on the plane, I was focused on the art of relaxation. It was wonderful. I even discovered my new favorite bar/nightclub, which is CatHouse, located in the Luxor Hotel.

Of course, I had to return to my “real life” on Tuesday, which meant hopping back on an airplane, driving back to Corvallis, and then attending a meeting and a three-hour class. I was surprisingly alert and ready-to-go, which meant I was able to glean quite a bit of insight from Tuesday’s lecture. We had a guest speaker talk about application of Jim Collins’ Good to Great to a community college context, as opposed to its original application to the business world. One of the biggest take-aways for me was the concept of the flywheel. Flywheels are apparently really difficult to get going, but once in motion, they really stay in motion. They’ve got a lot of energy behind them, in other words. (It’s also incredibly hard to get the thing to change directions once it’s going.) Applied to the concept of organization and administration, the flywheel demonstrates that it can be hard to get new ideas to catch on or for change to happen. However, it’s an optimistic view in that once something is in place and starts gathering energy behind it, it can be powerful.

The opposite of the flywheel is the doom loop, which is basically the depressing spiral of “oh nooooo” that can happen when something goes wrong. Simply put, avoiding thinking in doom loop ways. When I’m in a not-so-great state of mind, I do have a tendency to gravitate toward the worst-case scenarios and then spiral down from there. Usually, though, I feel as if I do a good job of finding other perspectives, allowing myself to reframe situations. (Thank you, communication degree!)

On Wednesday, I traveled to Salem to work on my internship project. I began interviewing student organization advisors, trying to understand what their experiences and current roles in advising student groups look like. Overall, I’m trying to compare the institution’s approach to advising student organizations with other colleges’, and from there, I’ll devise a set of best practices. I’ve only conducted two interviews so far, but they’ve both been great. It was particularly interesting because the two advisors I met with are so different. One has advising student organizations built into his job role, and he’s been in the field for many, many years. The other advisor advises one group on a voluntary basis, and he’s fairly new it, especially considering he took an unconventional route to working at a college. I’m excited to see where the rest of these interviews go.

Thursday was one of those days that wrapped up on a warm and fuzzy note. I teach a orientation class for transfer students, and over the off-week (we meet every other week), groups of students were assigned to interview a staff or faculty member. The goal was to get a better understanding of what that person’s role at the school was, where they came from, and how those staff/faculty members view themselves in relation to students. There was a good range in who was interviewed (one group even interviewed me), and what they shared with the class was just really cool, simply put. One group interviewed someone who had held nearly every kind of position possible at a college–including a custodial position. Other groups reported back about the advice their interviewees gave them. The emergent theme centered around how personable these folks were. Seeing that one of my major draws into student affairs was giving students the chance to relate with people–and not a faceless institution–I was very happy to see that some of that came out in the assignment.

And today? I cross-trained with my supervisor, sitting in on three academic advising appointments. As honors advisors, my colleagues have the unique role of working with students from different disciplines, figuring out schedules which will satisfy major requirements as well as UHC requirements. It can be confusing! However, advising appointments also allow some check-in time, which I could see serves as an important way of not only getting feedback on current courses, but a way to make sure a student is just doing okay. It was encouraging to see my supervisor fit in scheduling and well-being conversation into each appointment.

Speaking of well-being, I took a power nap this afternoon, and then I went to my last counseling (or “talking it out”) session for the term. Things are looking up, and my counselor encouraged me to get a jump start on job applications. We talked a lot about my vacation, as well as some of the conclusions I’ve come to. I told him that I had a break-through a few weeks ago when I found myself telling someone, partially out of frustration with my own situation, that “I came to Corvallis because I wanted to do something for myself. I didn’t want to follow a boy. I wanted to get an education for myself at the school that was the best fit for me. And that’s Oregon State. If I wanted to make dating a priority, I would have stayed in Seattle no matter what. If my relationship had failed there, I would have had plenty of other boys to choose from.” But it wasn’t my priority. My priority was myself.

It still is. It’s hard feeling isolated in Corvallis. I know this is a chapter that will close, though. And I know great things will happen in the next few months. Patience is my theme.

I used to tell people that when I grew up, I wanted to be great.

This is my chance.

I’m growing up. I will be great.

This has nothing to do with Vegas, but it's still amazing.

Expect the Unexpected

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This blog is subtitled An Adult in Transition for a good reason. I’ve been mulling over my parallel life plans the past few days, and there is a wealth of possibility. I’m sure the next nine or ten months will be full of surprises.

On a different note, I was able to set foot on three southern Califoria schools this past week: California Lutheran University, UCLA, and USC. Each was quite different, with my favorite being UCLA. Hopefully my photos of my trip turn out; I had a 35mm camera with me that I barely know how to use!

I apologize for my small hiatuses this summer. As seems to be the norm, my personal life is rather demanding, requiring much processing and contemplation. I won’t disclose much more than that, but I’m learning to at least put my energy behind exploring these aforementioned parallel plans.

As always, stay tuned.