Sunday, June 21, 2015

For Every Season...Waiting

The past couple days, I’ve been in one of those moods. You know the kind I’m talking about…the kind where you see the negative in everything, you’re jealous when you think the whole world is having fun without you, or, as my mom likes to call it, the “woah is me” mentality.

And you know what?

It’s a very ugly, ugly state of being. I will be the first to admit that one. Though I just finished my first 6 weeks of my internship rotations on Friday and have so many blessings in my life to rejoice about, there I was, wishing I was anywhere but here.

Graduate school is an odd stage in life. It’s probably no longer acceptable for me to behave the way undergraduate students do, yet I’m not in a career setting either. It’s a long stage of simply waiting. 

Waiting… to finish assigned papers.
Waiting…until one dietetic rotation is completed…and then waiting again to finish the next.
Waiting…. to finally take the RDN exam.
And then waiting to find a job.

And if you’re anything like me, too much waiting makes a person grow restless. My adventurous, wanderlust soul craves to be on the move and exploring—especially when I am bound to one place.

My morning devotional, Jesus Calling, put me in my place the other morning (like it all too frequently does!) The devotional urged:

“Welcome challenging times as opportunities to trust me…the way to walk through demanding days is to grip My hand tightly and stay in close communication with me.”

Those words reminded me to cling to the promises of the Lord during difficult times and use those moments as opportunities for growth. While I may grow frustrated and sometimes sad with being stuck away from my family and friends here in Illinois, I’m determined to be grateful for the present. In one of my favorite books, Wanderlust (ironically enough), Elisabeth Eaves admits:

“I couldn’t live with my head somewhere else. I had to embrace my surroundings, because this time was only going to go by once, and I didn’t want to spend it wishing for things to be different.”

Amen! How true is that? I have this constant fear that I’m not living life to its fullest. I think that is part of the reason why I so often wish I were embarking on journeys around the world. However, I never want to become an elderly woman and look back at my time in graduate school and wonder why I wasted all of that time feeling sorry for myself.

Here are some ways I have found to take advantage of this waiting season.

     1.)  Spend more time in the Word.

I cannot begin to tell you the number of times I have started and failed to complete a Bible reading plan. I hate to call myself a quitter, but….

I’ve always admired people who take time to soak up the word each day.  It sounds so serene and also conducive to developing a better perspective on life. So this past week, I took it upon myself to start a 61 day survey of the Bible reading plan. So far, I am loving it! The daily readings highlight some of the more crucial passages from each book of the Bible. I am praying that I can keep the stamina to complete this Bible study. If you want to do the Bible study with me, check out the plan here. You can always shoot me an email and we can be Bible buddies. J

     2.) Build community with others.

Over the weekend, I was pretty bummed seeing pictures of one of my best friend’s wedding and also photos from my undergraduate roommates enjoying festivities from our annual roommate weekend. Being in the middle of Illinois meant I had to miss both events. (Insert the countless tears I have shed this past week!) Counting all the things that I’m missing out on often causes me to overlook the genuine friends I have made while in graduate school. I truly do love doing life with these ladies. In fact, just a couple weekends ago, my friend Gina and I stayed up until 4am simply talking about life—we’re still young, people!! In my remaining year in Illinois, I want to take advantage of this beautiful community we have already established and watch it continue to flourish.
This is such a terrible picture but it makes me giggle.
Apparently homemade ice cream is a three woman job...
At least it was this past weekend. ha! 

     3.) Take advantage of my current location

Even though I can’t explore the streets of Ireland or, perhaps, Ecuador, like I’m longing to do, there is plenty to see right where I am located. One of the things that I love about Illinois is how much more centrally located it is. Chicago is 2 hours north, Indianapolis is 3 hours east, St. Louis is 2 hours southwest, Nashville is only a 6 hour drive…need I go on? If I were back in South Dakota, those locations would be more realistically traveled via airplanes. Now is the time to take advantage of the centrality of my current home. Let’s get moving, ’98 Buick Century!
St. Louis Arch from when Abby and I visited last August

     4.) Dream of the future

Since I have almost a year before I need to begin my hunt for a job, now is the time to dream…and dream BIG! I swear my career goals change daily. Now is the time for me to explore my options before singling in on where my true passions lie. Lately the corners of my mind have been flooding with thoughts of wanting to live abroad for awhile—possibly applying for a TOEFL position. We’ll see. Maybe I will act on that dream. Maybe I won't.  For now, they are simply dreams and sometimes the dreaming is the best part.
San Fran beaches from a Spring Break Mission Trip a year ago...
Cali is on my dream radar for future plans lately too...

One of my favorite bloggers, Katie Cook of Hope Engaged, reflected on her own waiting season this past year:

“If you are in a place you find incredibly boring or routine, take heart! This might be part of the training grounds for some epic calling God may have on your life.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself and I am so excited to see what these training grounds are preparing me for.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

NYC Part 6: Good Morning America & the biggest Whole Foods of my Life!

If you are sick of me talking about New York, lucky for you (sad for me), this is my last post about my favorite city. And before I tell you about our final full day in New York, I just need to fill you in on one other little story from our Wednesday that I completely forgot in my last post...and it's centered around this photo:

Out of all the lovely pictures that Morgan and I took together, I think this one tops the list as one of my all time favorite pictures. I just crack up whenever I think of this story. So here's the scoop. On Wednesday, as you might recall, Morgan and I enjoyed a couple of hours in Chinatown before heading down to Battery Park. However, what I forgot to mention was our lovely Subway incident. Morgan and I had been sitting their patiently waiting to arrive at our stop. Midway through, a man walked at a brisk pace through our car to the next one. I didn't even know you could move from subway car to subway car. (Are they even called cars?!?) I thought it seemed a little odd, but I didn't really think about it too much. Then, probably 5 minutes later, our subway just stopped. The conductor came over the speaker and apologized for the delay while they were working on a problem. So we sat...and sat...and sat! Finally, he announced that we should move from car to car to the front of the subway where the conductor would let us off. I'm still not entirely sure what happened, but my imagination went wild with thoughts of that man switching cars having something to do with the situation. As we were making our way to the front, I decided that it called for a "sketchy subway face" selfie. Little did we realize until I looked at the picture later that Mister Creeper in the background had gotten in on our selfie. As scary as he looks, I die laughing whenever I see this picture. 

Alright, now that I got that story out of my system...on to Thursday! Thursday began at the crack of dawn where Morgan and I walked down to the Good Morning America studio in Times Square. 

We arrived at the studio at about 6:45am with sleep still in  our eyes. It was just our luck that the day we were going to be standing outside for 3 hours also just so happened to be the coldest and windiest of our trip. I tried to act like it was nothing around all of the Texans who were there...but eventually I was shivering and complaining right along with the rest of them. 
Smiling even at the crack of dawn

When Morgan and I hung out recently, we finally sat down to watch the footage together. It was the first time I had seen our television debut. As with most stories about the two of us, there were fits of laughter as we watched it. The reason it was so funny is because I had made this sign that said "Illinois State Dietetic Internship" because I, of course, needed to give a shout out to my program. However, my sign was so puny and pathetic compared to the little girl's birthday sign next to us. Then, the production crew handed out these promotional signs for Yahoo...but I wasn't having it. As you can see below, I "photobombed" (as my mom would say) the entire Yahoo clan! ha

Funnier yet, as Morgan and I were watching the show again, there was a scene where the news anchors were lined up in front of us, blocking us from view. However, since the camera was pointed right in our direction, I awkwardly lifted my pitiful sign for like 2 seconds. Neither Morgan nor I even remember me doing that so we were practically in tears when we unexpectedly saw me pull that move on national television.

Never a dull moment in my life, I tell ya.

We also were able to see Demi Lovato talking about her skincare line. Unfortunately she didn't stay outside too long since it was so chilly, but it was pretty surreal to have a celebrity right in front of you. Her skincare line must work, because the one thing that stood out to me was how smooth and pretty her skin looked. (Casual sales plug for my girl, Demi!)

When the crew had finally wrapped things up (that's right, we stuck it out the whole time!), we ran to the nearest place for cover. First a Starbucks and then on to a Sephora. Even though I probably shouldn't have, I made a couple of splurge purchases in that Times Square Sephora...I did some damage. However, when in New York, wear a bold lip color, right?! So I ended up getting my foundation and contouring done by a fabulous makeup artist and then I bought a Nars lipstick. The lipstick I am wearing in the photo below is Nars Red Lizard and then I bought the Anastasia Contour Kit. As unpractical as both items sound, I am in love with them. While people are sometimes caught off guard by the red lipstick, I have gotten so many compliments. I am determined to make red lipstick my signature look...Watch out, Taylor Swift! 

When we had finally shopped til we dropped (aka I spent all my money), we decided to head back to the hotel to rest for a little bit so that we would be energized for our last day. After our batteries were recharged, we met a relative of Morgan's, Courtney, at a restaurant down near Carnegie Hall. I ordered a toast that was topped with salmon and avocado. Mmm mmm mmm! It was quite the contrast from our Chinatown food the day before!

Courtney was staying in New York at an airbnb for about a month to work with an acting coach. She was between jobs and it conveniently worked into her schedule. Sign me up for that! Since she knew the area better than us, she led us down to some fun sites. We walked through the Plaza (think Eloise and Sex and the City.) We also walked along Central Park and even saw Tony Shalhoub from the TV show Monk. How cool!

We finally made it to Columbus Circle and I was on a mission...a mission to find this huge Whole Foods underground that my friend, Kailey had told me about. Mission accomplished! The massive checkout system was enough to impress me. Morgan and I found plenty of goodies to munch on that afternoon. 

Check out this checkout pun intended

Columbus Circle

Soon we said goodbye to Courtney and were on our own again. We took our sweet time exploring the Whole Foods and also popped into some of the other stores in the mall. Since neither of us really wanted to spend more money or pile more into our already heaping suitcases, we opted to enjoy some fresh air in Central Park. 

Before we knew it, we were rushing up to Harlem to meet Caleb, Morgan's friend who went to Aladdin with us. He attends a school for acting that is located there. When our subway arrived in Harlem, it was like an entirely different world than the rest of Manhattan. Let's just say, I held my purse a little closer when we were roaming around. Caleb was able to show us his apartment on campus before heading over to a cute little pizza diner just off of campus. Feeling full from my incessant eating the rest of the week, I opted for a caprese salad. 

Since we had to be at the airport in Queens early the next morning, we had to say goodbye to Caleb at a fairly early time. When we arrived back at our hotel, both Morgan and I were in full on pouting mode. Neither of us wanted to leave and head back to reality. The next morning when our cab driver pulled up, he was playing the most depressing Frank Sinatra I have ever heard. We were both practically in tears. It's odd to feel so attached to a city that I had only been in for a few days--but there is no denying the connection I felt to New York. 

Being a huge Alicia Keys fan, I've always loved her song "Empire State of Mind." I love the lyric that says:
"New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There's nothing you can't do.
Now you're in New York.
These streets will make you feel brand new.
The lights will inspire you.
Let's hear it for New York, New York, New York."

As cliche and dramatic as it sounds, I really do think  that the streets of New York did inspire me and change me for the better. The only problem with my love for New York is that everything will always seem so unsubstantial in comparison. I guess that means I will just have to keep wandering around to find a city to top my list....challenge accepted! 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

NYC Part 5: Empire State of Mind

Even though it's been a couple of months since Morgan and I meandered through the streets of New York, I wanted to finish telling our tale. 

So here we go again...igniting the flame that is my passion and love for this city.
Take me back!

To recap my other adventures in NYC, check out these posts:
As with my previous posts, I wanted to include this reference map of the places we visited. 

Recently, Morgan and I were reunited for the first time since we said goodbye at La Guardia (finally!!!) and we were reminiscing about our trip. We both agreed that our Wednesday in the city was one of our favorite days. We allowed ourselves to sleep in a little and fully rejuvenate our bodies for the rest of the trip. After stopping by a local cafe for a bite to eat, we raced off to the Empire State building. As you can imagine, I was about ready to run to the top of the building to meet Chuck Bass of Gossip Girl or Tom Hanks in Sleepless in Seattle...or ya know, pretty much any other character that has had a famous scene up there. Morgan and I couldn't contain our laughter when thinking of those movie characters trying to meet someone at the top of the building. With all of the security and the long lines, you'd have to do some pretty persuasive talking with those security guards.."Ummm, Chuck Bass is at the top waiting for me, so ummm, do you think you can cut me some slack on this 2 hour line?!" 

It was such a gorgeous day. While we had been bundled up the other days, today we were able to explore in simply light jackets and sweaters. Dressing like that at the beginning of March is a victory all in itself. 

By the time we had captured pictures at every angle of the city, my stomach was growling, which could only mean one thing...time for Chinatown!! Since China was where Morgan and I became friends, it holds a special place in my heart. How appropriate that we were able to relive some of those memories over food in the corner of a questionable restaurant in Chinatown?! Do I know if the facility's sanitation code was up to par? No. Do I want to? Probably not!

Even though we never actually ate duck while we were in China, it seemed like the Chinatown thing to do. I think our waiter was a little concerned that we didn't understand what we were ordering, because he then proceeded to point to an entire duck dangling from the window display. If that's not enough to make your stomach turn... We also ordered dim sum, which we ate in excess in Asia. In the spirit of reliving our Asian adventures, we ordered family style with some traditional tea. 

Even though we certainly weren't hungry, Morgan was able to track down an ice cream place that served green tea ice cream. I swear that girl has a sixth sense when it comes to anything green tea. It's a gift! 

We didn't go crazy purchasing knock off designer bags like you would expect. However it was pretty funny when people would discreetly come up to you and whisper "Louis Vuitton, Chanel..handbags. Come with me." I'm told they take you to a back alley to bargain and two young twenty something females were not about to do that. You're welcome, mom.

When we had had our cross cultural fix, we ventured back to our favorite part of the city: Battery Park. It's funny whenever I tell people that's my favorite. I think they expect me to say something more glamorous, like the Met or the Upper East Side. I'm just keepin' it real--I love that harbor! :) 

Back in the harbor area, we went to the Museum of Jewish Heritage which was a part of our NYC City Pass. If you visit NYC, you will not regret scheduling this into your agenda. The one of the things that was so great about this museum is how many fewer tourists were there. We practically had the place to ourselves. It was heartbreaking to take a stroll through history and learn about what the Jewish people have had to endure. The largest exhibit about the Holocaust was haunting. At one point, Morgan and I turned to each at exactly the same time and pondered "Why the Jews?" Why did Hitler single out the Jewish people? It could have been anyone! The whole thought of going through what those people did is sickening. 

Afterwards, we needed something to lighten our heavy hearts. Since we wouldn't have time to return to the Financial District, we strolled along the harbor and soaked up the last of those beautiful sites as the sun was setting. 

Having eaten at an odd time, we decided to test out this Korean dessert place Morgan had scoped out long before we even had even planned our trip. Tell me this green tea chocolate lava cake doesn't make your mouth water! We both agreed that this was by far the best food on the trip. 

And since we were on vacation and you eat excessively when on vacation...we ate even more when we walked back to Grand Central. We each tried different oysters, because that's what you do when you're at the Oyster Bar! We also had some New York clam chowder. Yum! 

With full tummies, we drifted back to our hotel. Stay tuned for our early morning excursion to the set of Good Morning America and our celebrity spotting. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Nothing to "Wine" About

Abby, Steph, Hannah, and my sun burnt, messy hair self

Baby I’m back!! It’s been so long since I’ve been on le blog, but there is something about summer that always gets me back in the spirit of writing and sharing little snapshots of my life. (Maybe because I also have time to do things worth documenting!) Even when I came with a long list of things I wanted to write about earlier during the spring semester, I kept having to weigh blogging against grad school papers and projects…and I guess grad school papers and projects took the “W”. #adultdecisions

Now that I do have a little more time, I have all of these ideas of things I want to write about floating through my head. Let’s start with this past weekend, shall we?

Can I just say how much I love summer? Because I do! Even though I am now about 130 hrs deep into the first rotation of my internship (I’ll be blogging about that soon!), I still feel a sense of relief when I am able to come back to my apartment at the end of the day and relax without a pile of homework waiting for me. The weekends are even better, because I don’t have those same heaps of homework to catch up on that I put off during the rest of the school week—I can actually enjoy myself. This past weekend was full of activities. I met up with the other dietetic interns at a local pub called Maggie Miley’s in our adorable uptown area on Friday night. Now that we are all dispersed in our rotations, it has been more difficult to stay caught up on each other’s lives. This was the perfect opportunity to play catch up. Although, I must admit, since my body has been so conditioned to going to bed at 10pm on work nights, I was about ready to fall asleed by 11...can you say party animal?!

The social activities continued into Saturday when a few of us took advantage of the beautiful sunny weather and spent the afternoon at my friend, Stephanie’s pool. Why did Abby and I not get an apartment with a pool?! Basking in the rays of sun and talking for hours with your girls…can life get any better? 

Apparently it can, because later that evening we loaded up my car with goodies and blankets and made our way to a local vineyard. The four of us sat there for hours beneath the stars with the live band playing in the background of our conversation. When my roommate, Abby and I reflected on the evening the next day, she said “last night is what life is all about.”

She took the words right out of my mouth. After a long semester of meeting deadlines and trying to prove myself in a new environment, it all became clear that night what is truly important in life. Those simple moments in community with others are what this crazy life is all about.

Have a lovely week, friends! :)