Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Year In Review: My Faves and Living my Bucketlist

Ahh, another year nearly completed. I get very reflective this time of year, reflecting on what has made 2011 all this it has meant to me. This post includes a compilation of my bucket list experiences, favorite meals, songs, movies, YouTube videos, books, and websites/blogs. Friday's post will include all of my favorite memories! I hope they inspire you! I credit Today's Letters for inspiring this idea. Enjoy!
Things I happily checked on the bucket list

Pinned Image

I can’t look at this picture without laughing. x:

Other's checked on the list:
  • Get a professional massage (best life choice ever)
  • Get into grad school
  • Get a graduate assistantship
Favorite New Foods/Drinks
California Sandwich & Texas Omelet, The Omelet Shoppe, Grand Rapids, Mich.
Fresh, local blueberries, blueberry stand on the way to Grand Haven, Mich.
Breaded Shrimp, The Willow Tree, West Branch, Mich.
Optimus Prime Sandwich & sweet potato fries,  Electric Cheetah, Grand Rapids, Mich.
Breaded Shrimp, The Butler, Saugatuck, Mich.
Mommy's Dearest Sandwich, Bewitched Deli, Kalamazoo, Mich.
Den Pop, Den Party Store, Kalamazoo, Mich.
Chicken Casadilla, Baja Grill, Holland, Mich. 
Chai soy latte, Crumbs, Saginaw, Mich.
Hawaiian Sandwich, East Egg, Kalamazoo, Mich.
Eye Catcher Drink, Harvey's, Saginaw, Mich.
Pizza Pinwheels, Holland Brewery, Holland, Mich.
Nachos, Beach Stand, South Haven, Mich.
Dutch Chocolate Gelatto, Santo Stefano Del Lago, Grand Haven, Mich.

And of course, all of those fresh McDonald's Coke's I drank--anywhere U.S.A.

Fave Songs
Best Love Song T-Pain feat. Chris Brown
Free Fallin' Live-John Mayer
God Gave Me You- Dave Barnes
WMU fight song
Sparks Fly- Taylor Swift
Party Rock Anthem- LMFAO
Superbass-Nikki Minaj
Love will hold us together- Matt Maher
Good Life- One Republic
The Show Goes on- Lupe Fiasco
Lay 'Em Down-Needtobreathe
Pumped Up Kicks- Foster the People
Fave YouTube Videos
Sophia Grace & Rosie (makes me  think of my sister & I)
Nature Neat (just ridiculous)
GVSU lipdub
Grand Rapids lipdub
Fave Movies
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
New Years Eve
Pirate's of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides
Fave Books
The Bible (always)
A Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren
The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin
Cinderella Ate My Daughter, Peggy Orenstein
Cold Tangerines & Bittersweet, Shauna Niequist
My Year with Eleanor, Noelle Hancock
Velvet Elvis, Rob Bell
The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway

Fave New Websites/Blogs Discoveries
Pinterest--feel free to follow me!

My friends blogs/websites:
Living in Student Affairs--Josh
Carleigh Courey, graphic design-- Carleigh

(Fair warning, the majority are fashion related, my recent admiration).
Selective Potential (she's a West Michigan blogger!)

Monday, December 19, 2011

What I Learned My First Semester of Grad School

This semester would not be possible without the people above--my family, my best friends, and the SALP staff. My family and friends were able to continuously encourage my journey, reminding me of the richness of the life we live, and the reason we are here: Him.

I've spent many hours learning, laughing, and growing within my assistantship in the Student Activities and Leadership Programs office (SALP) and the awesome staff I get to work with. I've helped plan and facilitate leadership retreats, the emerging leaders program, and am currently working on the Gender and Leadership Summit conference, strengths program, social justice certificate, spring leadership retreat...just to name a few. Which leads me to my biggest lesson learned this year:

#1. Life is about spinning plates

Having nearly 1/2 a dozen programs in the works at any given time, my supervisor Kate continuously stated how it's all about spinning plates. You work on one project and transfer to another and then jump back with enough time that the other one hasn't stopped spinning (i.e. you don't forget about it). At work this was originally challenging, because I can get so immersed in one task it easy to forget of the others--yet 5 months has passed and I am a spinning plates afficionada. I think this mindset has also been beneficial to my life, having family and friends all great distances away. I am learning to 'spin plates' in that regard by sending simple text messages, weekly cards, scheduling phone calls, visits and adventures. Keeping my friendships spinning has been a huge area of growth and improvement to me this year.

#2. Life is about growing where your planted

When I originally moved to Kalamazoo, I was constantly looking to when I could visit Grand Rapids and head home to Saginaw. As much I was enjoying my new life, I wasn't overly concerned with growing roots and planting myself right where I was. As the semester unfolded and classes began, the more I began to pray and reflect on the meaning of now. What does God want me to do here? What is my purpose here? In little ways each day, he began to show me. I began enjoying time outside of class with friends, spending time with my roommates, seeing the blessings in simple interactions with students, getting the Kalamazoo Gazette, attending a church regularly--where I'm beginning a small group with the Women's Ministry director! I feel my roots are off to a great start, and so thankful I recognized that although I have so much I look forward to outside of Kzoo, I have plenty to look forward to, right here, right now.

#3. Working with/for students will be a part of my life's work

Beginning my job and my graduate coursework, I was quite sure that being a student affairs professional and working in higher education is where God has called me, I continuously prayed for His guidance in terms of this time and of what my future looks like. To be honest, I've been overly surprised how much I love my work, my classes, and the everyday thrill of driving to a job and school I love. I feel He has only encouraged me to thrive in His ways, right where He led me to.

#4. Be excited when life goes the other way of "your plan"

Hot damn I am a planner--I enjoy planning for today, tomorrow, next week, next year, and the next century. In many ways I learned this semester that God must continuously laugh at my plans, because many of them did not go as planned this year. He has chartered a course that I certainly couldn't have guessed or planned. And for that, I am daily thankful and grateful for how much He loves me and guides me and has everything occur at the opportune moment, time, place, and with the right people. In short, I am less neurotic about planning in general, because when recently when I have let go and let Him take over more, I have been so unabashedly happy. I truly couldn't ask for much more!

Here's to my first semester of grad school, and the 1.5 years to go! With Him, I am nothing but lavishly excited.