Throwback Thursday

This last weekend was my high school ten year reunion.

When did that happen?

10 years. So what do I have to say for myself?

Never. Would. Have. Imagined.

You grow up thinking your life is going to go down this perfect path to happiness. Well, happiness still attainable, but down the path you envisioned and planned for, probably not.

So let me take you back to 2003.

  • 18 years old-adult finally! And I think I know everything, just ask my parents.
  • moving out of Kansas City-which did not seem like that big of a deal since my parents were divorced and I had become fairly independent going back and forth every weekend since I was 4. And I was ready to be away from my family-what 18 year old isn’t?
  • ok so fairly independent, but extremely painfully shy. I liked riding the coattails of people into a group. This is probably why I found my home in the arts (band, theater, and photography-I could either hide behind something or was given lines.)
  • huge dork-when I sat down to look at pictures I made a disclaimer to Tom that if he thought I was a dork now, the stats grow exponentially for back then
  • going to college for elementary education
  • I had my first year of undergrad paid for through the dozens of scholarships I applied for, but I was apprehensive of how the rest of the time was going to get paid.
  • I had just started my first summer at Worlds of Fun, which I thought would be a one time deal.
  • I did not own a car.

Looking back these things had a significant impact on how the last ten years went.

I acted like an adult and rarely asked my parents for guidance or support like many in college. And luckily my parents were not helicopter parents so they let me have my space. It made me fend for myself and fight my own battles. Don’t get me wrong, my parents were always there for guidance and support, I just learned how to fumble through things on my own first. This helped me learn who I was and how to pick myself up after I made a mistake.

I have lived in several places since then. I have not moved back to Kansas City, and that is still up in the air if I will. At that point [2003], I was so ready to be gone. Now I look forward to my visits home because I have lived far away for so long and I know that I am missing out on things. Most of my family lives in that area, and we have two nieces now that we don’t get to see grow up. We have decided that eventually we will end up back in Missouri so that we can be closer to family. The “where” will depend on job searches.

The shyness is a roller coaster itself. I am still painfully shy, I just have learned how to mask it-for the most part. It is really surprising that I made it through residence life as long as I did. I found when I was in my own element and a chosen environment, I could make it count, with a lot of work and energy. (And then a weekend holed up in my apartment). Over the past few years, I had several staff members comment that they were surprised I was an introvert. I am not sure if that is a compliment or not, but I guess it shows some growth that I can put my shyness aside. It also showed that they were unaware of what extrovert and introvert actually mean-teaching moment. I will say, I definitely have become much more self aware and learned a lot about balance so I could put away the shyness in some parts of my life. (All those personality tests…)

However if it is a new environment or one that I have not chosen myself where I know few people or no one, I still have severe anxiety and become that wallflower I have always been. I will constantly check my watch to see if I have put in enough time. Making friends is difficult to do on my own still, which moving here, just makes it all the more apparent. Housing really spoils you by putting you in forced cohorts. Tom and I recently had a heated discussion about my “preferred” way of making friends in small intimate groups instead of large gatherings. Fortunately and unfortunately,  my hubster is a social butterfly and can easily work his way into any conversation. Sometimes he has a hard time understanding my hard time. My awkwardness however makes me feel like I am always 3 steps behind, so most of the time in new situations I just observe. And I hate forced mingling. Navigating socials at conferences always gives me a pit in my stomach and is the reason why I sprint towards a familiar face. So this shyness/awkwardness is still a work-in progress.

But, I am much more confident with who I am, and the shyness has become more of an inner battle. I have become slightly more assertive, although Tom would argue that I still let people walk over me too much. Eh, I can’t give it all up I guess. At least there is growth right? And I am not unhappy about my shyness. I have made many good friends over the years, and wont stop making friends. I just take my time and do it very carefully. Overtime, I have just learned what are the best routes for me, or how to force an awkward smile and excuse myself for a graceful exit.

I am still a huge dork, and perhaps I have sharpened that in some areas. I like to proclaim that I am a classical dork, and I embrace it every day.

While I still found myself in education, I became a statistic when I changed my major. I learned within a month of my freshman year that elementary schools were not in my future. I quickly changed to Social Studies Education, which is what I stayed with. However as things happened thought my involvement and teaching practicals, I learned that I actually wanted to work with college students. I proceeded to get my Master’s in Counseling with an emphasis in Student Affairs.

Now that first year of college, I grappled with the fact I needed to figure out a way to continue to pay for school. I was persistent about applying for scholarships and was fortunate to receive many. This is probably because many people stop applying for scholarships once they actually get to college. Don’t stop! There are sooo many that very few people apply to. I ran a scholarship committee for the last three years, and only one year was there more than six people who applied for a $1000 scholarship. Anywho, I also managed to keep my academic tuition scholarship for my entire career. Whoop being a smarty pants finally worked in my favor! This financial situation led me to work in several areas on campus and showed me that a hard work ethic and determination can get you pretty far. Can you believe I worked for the alumni center phone bank? Seriously this shy girl did make those annoying telemarketing phone calls. I was horrible at it, but it was a fun semester none the less. The two jobs that probably changed the course of my life though were both in housing. I was a Community Advisor for three years and worked for a year as an Office Assistant in the main housing office. Because of these opportunities, I learned that I did in fact love teaching, just on a different scale than I thought. This experience prompted me to change my life plan and go into student affairs which led me to Clemson University for my Masters. And oh the lessons learned from housing….And because of all this, I managed to get two degrees with zero debt. Yep you read that correctly. Toot my own horn yes indeed! I paid everything the moment it was due and have no bills to worry about now. It has made my education very dear to my heart and probably is one of my greatest achievements to come out unscathed by the debt most college graduates face today.

Not only did I work on campus, but I continued to work at Worlds of Fun for 6 years. This was also a defining experience in my life, for so many reasons. Working at an amusement park is an awesome way to spend your summers. You gain some great memories, friends, and leadership experience. You also gain some really random knowledge like the best way to clean up puke and how to run a steam engine locomotive. Who doesn’t want to know that? (Unfortunately, you also get some wacko tan lines but you can relieve the pain by riding roller-coasters all day.)  This is also where I met Tom, so we are pretty much in debt to that place. I would love to get my hands on a vintage WoF map to do something crafty with it. Who knew that this temp job [starting in the games dept no less] drastically changed the course of my life?

My parents didn’t get me a car while I was in high school. I had to earn that ’99 Jimmy. They gave me a price that I had to reach on my own before we could look into it. I wasn’t able to do my share until after my freshmen year of college. Saving thousands of dollars while paying for school, is a hefty charge! But I am so grateful that my parents dealt me this hand, even though I hated it at the time. First off, UCM was a suitcase campus. So I was forced to stay at school on the weekends and make friends. Done and done. I joined clubs and had some great experiences that year that were a foundation for the rest of my time in the Burg. Secondly, it taught me a lot about fiscal responsibility and how to save. I have also never had a car payment in my life because of this and my parent’s support/encouragement. I am getting ready to get my third car using this method=just a little more savings to go!

So yea, I guess you could say the last ten years have been pretty good to me. I have learned a lot and become a better person then that scrawny nerdy shy girl who was terrified of the future.

Unfortunately, I was not in a position to make it to the actual reunion in KC. It would have been nice to see all those blasts from the past, and interesting to see how we all have changed. If my little novel of reflection here is any indication, we all probably made some strides.

Here are some visuals from my senior year. Photos sure have upped their game in the last decade!

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This was my favorite senior picture. In high school, band was my main identity. I played all through college and hope to someday pick it up again in a community band. I loved that saxophone. I had a luggage cart that I use to bungee cord it to so I could literally take it everywhere. That thing was heavy! Why there is no picture of this, I am not sure. For now just picture a gangly girl pushing around a box that could hold a person while trying not to make eye contact with anyone. Oh and I was probably carrying at least 2 or 3 bags with all my basketball/track gear, music and photography knickknacks, and all my books and class folders. It’s astonishing that I did not have a trapper keeper. Dad used to call me a pack mule when I got out of his truck. Good picture in your head? I said I was a dork. Don’t be hating; I think I came out alright.

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Besides some changes due to my braces that I had in college, physically I was fortunate to stay fairly the same. I still own and wear these dress pants. Between you and me, I actually think I look better with the decade behind me! Although I am still just as clumsy…

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I was in the senior play “Sabrina Fair” as the maid. My dad still talks about my drunken burping scene. Years of practice finally paid off-on the burping, not the drinking. (I can honestly say I never drank until college.) Acting in this play may have been the start of my infatuation with all things Audrey Hepburn. Sabrina is my favorite after all.  Then I played the school “hottie” and was part of the “band” in our musical production of “Grease.” So much fun! These two parts were completely out of my comfort zone and totally not my persona in HS. I remember practicing my “strut” in those atrocious heels for hours just so I wouldn’t fall. It was really fun looking back at my lame attempt of scrapbooking and all the little things I kept. It sparked a lot of memories that I had completely forgotten about.

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Who could forget about school dances?! And yes I wore gloves, doesn’t everyone at least once? Seriously though, why are corsages necessary?

I am so glad I don’t have to go though the waiting to be asked and all that drama and pressure of who is taking who. Luckily, my best friend , Ryan was my date to most of them that year. Ryan and I met in 4th grade where he teased me endlessly and made me cry on more than one occasion. I can never look at Sassafras the same.

These ladies were some of my besties throughout high school, or BFFs as we called them in the olden days. It’s hard to believe that most of us are married and beginning to start our own little families. Ok not hard to believe because we are awesome; it’s just when you reflect that it has been 10 years you just think holy cow did we just do that? I wish we could see each other more, but we literally all live in different states and have jobs like grown ups.

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We went to DC for a band trip, which was amazing. I would love to go back again since our visit was brief. Plus now with my history background and Tom being military, I think I would be able to soak it in much more than my 17 year old self did.

I was fortunate (or unfortunate some days) to be surrounded by my family my senior year. My brother was a freshmen and my dad was my marine biology teacher. Now while I look fairly the same, (my hair is now flipped under instead of out-but I will have you know that I did have long and permed hair in between), my brother and dad cannot say the same.

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My dad has since retired, shaved his mustache, and grew out his hair. He is a long haired salt and pepper man now. Living a wild and crazy life, just like his shirt here.

And my brother grew a lot and now has a daughter. Still crazy! But he is still as stubborn as he looks in the picture above.

I don’t have a recent photo of the 3 of us; we are not really that great at taking pictures together during family time. The second picture is the most recent one I could find with the three of us in it, and that is in 2011 at my wedding. Mental note to make that happen the next time I’m home.

So was this where I envisioned my life 10 years ago? Why don’t we hop on Xanga and find out? Oh goodness, my early days of blogdom.

Times change, and so do we. Hopefully we can look back and say, “Well that was delightful.”

My last ten years have been pretty decent to me for sure. I love my life and who I am with, and I feel blessed every day. Couldn’t have planned it better myself!

Here’s to the next ten years being as fruitful as the last.

And it just goes to show that you have no idea what God has in store for you.

Now what’s next?

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Hmm, that pose hasn’t gone away in ten years…

Boomerang

“Whatever you give to the person standing next to you, it eventually comes back to you.”

This week I will start my last closing as a housing professional, for the immediate future anyway. It is hard to believe in two weeks I will be three states away and about to embark on a whole new life:  one with my husband and one without Residence Life.

Since I have been living in the residence halls since I graduated high school ten years ago (minus my one lone year off campus while student teaching, but still within spitting distance of the residence halls lol), it is hard to imagine not living in a college town and on campus. I have spent a lot of time recently reflecting on the past 9 years and how much residence life has impacted me. I found out who I was in the halls. I found some of my closest friends. I found that my passion is teaching but not how I had imagined it my whole life. Residence Life has given me so much from being a resident to student staff member to professional. Now I have to let it go and cut the cord per say. This girl is moving off campus for reals this time.

Not really knowing how to pay homage to my residence life history or in the right mindset to say goodbye, I started scouring my photos. There lies so many memories. So many late nights, events, conversations, meals, tears, laughter-such richness in these photos. And of course as I have spent the evening looking at these again, I was sent back to those times and laughed and cried all over again.

Here are just some of the highlights and in no particular order:

1. There are too many things that happened my freshmen year to even begin describing it here. I could have a whole tribute to 3rd floor Hosey-lounge parties, dress-up, hallway convos, one and only all-nighter, crushes, the drama, etc. That community will always hold a special place in my heart. I can only smile.

2. Playing CA sardines in Natt/Brad.

3. Jello Fights

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4. Warrensburg Police escorting the Yeater CAs to the Yeater Porch so we could see what it looked like.

5. The challenge of an all female floor and “I love my CO!”

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6. Conferences across the nation and the opportunity to travel (Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois, South Carolina, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Washington, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania were all states I was able to see more of because of housing opportunities.)

7. University of Central Florida intern trio and shenanigans

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8. Upper Friley Staff jumping into Ada Hayden during training. Take it to the Top!

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9. SHOEBOX!

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10. Geer Flood. Yep this is a happy memory.

11. Dispelling the myths of the haunted 3rd floor Yeater.

12. Getting lost in my own building. Oh Friley you are too much like Hogwarts with your hidden floors and stairwells to no where.

13. Camping outside of RHD Jamie’s office during closing.

14. Themed rounds with my other half. Stbizzle is on call!

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15. 4th Natt ladies faking a roommate conflict so they could TP my room.

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16. Friley Snowball (2011, 2012, 2013)

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17. Lipsyncs.

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18. Most spirited staff during RALI and spending time each day to make our costumes and plan our entrances-hilarious

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19. Friley Penny Wars being most of the student contribution to United Way

20. My last Upper Friley staff meeting.

20. Being able to witness students coming alive and be passionate about a cause. Seeing what students are capable of has been an honor.

21. Watching communities come together in times of triumph and sorrow

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22. I have learned so many skills and things about myself within crisis management, event planning, counseling skills, professionalism, how to be human, and more. And yet, I still have not been able to master how many pizzas a group of college students needs.

These 22 statements barely begin to describe all that has happened over the years, but you have to start somewhere. Even as I read this over, I can think of other things or want to add other pictures, but as my husband says I need to learn to keep my stories short. Ugh, this is why saying goodbye is hard. There is just so much to say!

Residence life is a special place. It has been a boomerang for me. There were many days that I thought I was giving all that I was and sacrificed all that I had. But as I sit here about to embark on my final days as a Hall Director, I realize how much it has done for me since that first day in 355 Hosey in 2003. Residence life has given me more than I could have ever imagined, hoped for, or expected. It provided me a place to be what I needed to be in the time I needed to be it. It challenged me to grow up and become a much stronger individual. It has been my home.

I am sure I will still be uncovering lessons from my time in the halls for years to come. And there are so many people and events that will make me smile and make me a reslifer at heart.

All I can say now is thank  you to all of those who have come and gone over the past decade. Each of you have influenced who I am today. From those of you who made hard boiled eggs with me in my crock pot to those who drank countless cups of coffee with me or those who ran down the hill at Death Valley. I cannot begin to say thank you enough for all the love, support, and time that has been spent to make this all happen. To make “me” happen.

Filled with gratitude and humbled as I say goodbye to this weird but joyous life in the residence halls.

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Now what am I going to do with all my free time?

Hmm maybe more things like social painting!

If you have not heard of social painting, you should really look into it. It is where an art professional hosts an event for people to come and follow along on a painting. Ours was hosted in a restaurant, so we could order food and drinks while we painted. There was a specific painting design, and the teacher guides you through the basic idea and is there for support and guidance through the painting process.

This is one of the best outings I have had in a long time. And it was pretty reasonable too! We bought ours on Groupon, but I think even regular price is still fairly cheap. Your “ticket” is for the event, and all art supplies are included. All social painting events may vary on the details so make sure you read the fine lines before you participate to know what you are getting into.

It was really fun though, and it has definitely got me wanting to paint like crazy!

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It was really cool seeing how each of us interpreted the same design so drastically differently. I love art.

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Apparently, I picked one of the hardest designs to do. Whoops. But I think we all did a great job! And it was fun to do it with a group of friends!

What is your favorite college memory from living on-campus?

Memories of Us

Today is my husband’s birthday. There was no cake with sprinkles, no picking out a lobster to eat and watching Tom scarfing down everything in sight at Red Lobster, and no trip to Jax to peruse the gear we need for our bunker. So we are postponing the celebration until he gets back, as with most things during this deployment. I did sleep in for him, and I did go to Red Lobster but I was pretty conservative on my lunch. I just didn’t want to end up like this after a seafood overload…1939_534999924271_8953_n

It does stink to have holidays come and go and not be able to make new memories with each other.

I guess you could say though we are still making memories, they just aren’t the traditional ones most people are having. These months have been difficult, but it has given us strength and an experience to be really proud of.

And sometimes the memories are all we have to get us through this last little bit.

So in honor of Tom’s birthday, I thought of memories from our relationship to highlight his 28 years. I promise it won’t get to mushy.

  1. Meeting at Worlds of Fun both as supervisors of our respective departments-later to hear that Tom used to find excuses to come into the park to see me before he asked me out. One being a park wide power outage and “happening” to come to the ride where I was coordinating an emergency evacuation. 299_525196151111_8387_n
  2. The whole asking me out scenario-He had just pulled over my brother for running a stop sign and thought Randall had stolen my car. Then as Tom was asking me out, he spit gum at me. And I still said yes…
  3. Seeing Blue October live in KC
  4. Having our last year in Warrensburg together 121_512760372511_2604_n
  5. Moving me to and from South Carolina, and Tom being an awesome partner who drove the truck both times so I could get into my car coma
  6. Building elaborate sand castles every time we are at a beach2641_540223945291_2762975_n
  7. Fudge, Moccasins, and Ninja weapons. Enough said.
  8. Building a laser obstacle course in our apartment with two lasers and lots of mirrors, then singing the theme song to mission impossible as we tried to roll through it.
  9. Watching Tom with Grace.   223954_942620484401_284727669_n
  10. Watching Tom with Ava (his sister’s daughter) 431113_10150690940726005_439029725_n
  11. Nights on Pine Street
  12. Friday Night Date night means Hy-Vee Chinese and a movie rental.
  13. Taking care of me when I have food poisoning, which unfortunately has happened more times than I would care to remember
  14. Making the ribbon streamers for our wedding and making up ribbon dances in our apartment to “test them out” 251303_687967725571_1633305_n
  15. Tom being the first person to tell me Boy Meets World is going to have a sequel. This is a big deal folks, especially since he called me from Afghanistan to do so.
  16. Hearing Tom’s end of the world plans, which changes on a daily basis.
  17. Being there to watch each other graduate from big milestones (undergraduate, graduate, basic training)
  18. Me beating him repeatedly in miniature golf…2641_540224040101_3318484_n
  19. Our first date and being serenaded by a band at the restaurant
  20. Having different opinions in how Rummy should be played
  21. Going to Zoo Brew the past few summers 254618_718351276691_729621_n
  22. BASEBALL  251708_687967745531_1011359_n
  23. Tom reciting how I talk jibberish in my sleep. (Basketball Time!)
  24. Being cited by WoF employees on our second date at the KC zoo. We didn’t want to be tainted by the WoF rumor mill…
  25. Making forts out of anything and everything
  26. Helping me train for my first half marathon and singing “Push It” as we run.  382955_10150473096691005_2039894412_n
  27. The proposal story in Savannah, GA 14117_594000616411_4293383_n
  28. Our perfect wedding 228898_718862102991_6436658_n

We have lots of memories still to make and many more birthdays to experience!

Tonight’s craft has been a long time in the making. I have been collecting plastic bottle caps for the past 6 months for this. For someone who doesn’t buy a lot of groceries and has reusable bottles, this took me longer than others. Half of these honestly came from when we cleaned out my grandparents’ fridge after the funeral. So I am sure if someone else was doing the collecting it might go a little quicker.

So you just need need enough caps to cover the canvas of your choice. Then you just glue them all to the canvas in the design you want. It took me awhile to organize them so it wasn’t all one color in a certain area.

But this is the final product!

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Happy Birthday Thomas!