Finale.

Well, this semester has finally come to a close! My last class of the year is tonight and I couldn’t be more excited. I’m really looking forward to a month of recuperation – I definitely need it. Grad school is even more mentally taxing than my undergraduate was, and there was a time when I never thought I’d say those words!

Over break I’m going to Orlando (of course) and to Pennsylvania to visit my family. I’m hoping to get in a lot of Disney World, sunshine, and then, on the flip side – snow on Christmas! It hasn’t snowed in PA for the past few Christmases, so I’m hoping Jack Frost will be visiting this year…

I learned how tough I was this semester. There was a lot of frustration, a lot of sleepless nights, and a lot of anxiety. But guess what – we all made it! I can guarantee you only learn to be stronger as college – and life – goes on.

I hope you all have a WONDERFUL break. Eat lots of Christmas cookies and don’t forget to save some for Santa and his reindeer 😉

Keep moving forward.

xoxo Jess

Ten Things I’m Thankful for

Thanksgiving is just one week away!  It’s probably my second- or third-favorite holiday; I can’t decide between it and Easter.  Anyway, now is a great time of the year to count your blessings, so to speak.  I know it’s nearly the end of the semester, you’re probably exhausted, and you’re looking forward to some time with family…but in these busy moments, I think it’s especially important to look at yourself with a positive outlook.  In a world of negativity and brokenness, we, Fontbonne as a community, can spread some counter-feelings of optimism, respect, and encouragement.  And what’s a great way to start on that track?  Look inward, outward, and all around you, and see what’s good in your life.  I’d like to encourage you to make a list of your own in the next few weeks; maybe it would be appropriate for in between studying for finals…a nice way to take a breath, relax, and appreciate everything a little more fully.  It can be as short and simple as you like!

So here’s my “top 10” list of things I’m thankful for, in no particular order, by the way!

  1. Fontbonne:  I love the faculty, staff, my fellow students, the opportunities to pursue one’s passion and “serve the dear neighbor”, and the entire atmosphere in general.  Even on days when I’m really tired and just not feeling too upbeat, my mood ends up brightening by being on campus, going to class, and knowing I’m surrounded by wonderful, supportive people.
  2. My family & friends:  My parents, brother, godparents, and other friends (young and old) bring me so much joy.  They’re patient, kind, loving, encouraging, funny, and genuinely interested in hearing about the latest topic or subject I’ve covered in class.  I may not have a huge social web, but the relationships I have with my relatives and companions are deep and permanent.
  3. My horses:  Dear, sweet little Pearl-baby and Blondie-girl, who have been so cooperative and easygoing about my lack of time for them since school started.  They’re happy to just be groomed, petted, hugged, loved on, and told how much they mean to me.  Owning a horse is so much more than riding; in fact, it’s really quite irrelevant to me.  I think it’s way more important to have a strong relationship, built on trust and respect, than a surface level “hop on and ride off into the sunset” sort of thing.
  4. Good health:  I’m grateful for the ability to exercise every day and not be compromised in any way by injuries or illnesses.  My first semester at Fontbonne is nearly over, and I have not gotten so much as a sneeze, which I’m pretty proud of…especially considering how little sleep I’ve recently been getting!
  5. Freedom:  I’m thankful for all of the men and women who have served or are currently serving in our military, protecting and preserving my rights.  I’m really glad for my, your, and everyone else’s ability to voice their opinions and beliefs.  Now more than ever, we need to ensure this right does not get lost or suppressed for anyone; but even more importantly, we need to be civil and respectful when speaking with someone who may hold a different set of beliefs.
  6. Faith:  This ties into #5 above (freedom).  Every Sunday morning, I can go to church with my family to experience communion and fellowship with other believers.  I can be refreshed for the coming week, forgiven of my sins, receive the Lord’s Supper, and encouraged to live a life of grace and love.  My right to worship is not infringed upon, and for that I am appreciative.
  7. Sunrises & sunsets:  For all the darkness and gloom surrounding winter, you have to admit we have some of the most spectacular sunrises and sunsets.  Colors of red, orange, golden, blue, pink, purple, and more set the sky on fire and always make me hopeful for the day ahead.  In that quiet stillness, there is peace to be found.
  8. Home sweet home:  I have a roof over my head, heat and air-conditioning for all seasons, abundant clothing, running water, electricity, Internet service, and so many other creature comforts.  We take these for granted far too much.  Remember that there are millions of people all around the world who do not and may never experience these everyday conveniences.
  9. Food:  Once again, just how many people do you think do not have access to quality food and water like we do?  I’m not trying to shame you for enjoying the bountiful feast your mom or grandma prepares for Thanksgiving…I think it’s one of the best times to come together as a family for fellowship and yummy goodness.  But maybe after that final piece of pumpkin pie, consider volunteering for a food pantry or donating to a charity that seeks to improve the lives of people who aren’t in the same fortunate position we are.
  10. The Future:  I’m thankful to be able to pursue my studies in dietetics and history, two passions of mine, and eventually help people live their lives to the fullest.  I’m thankful for classes that challenge, push, and mold me into a version of myself I never dreamed I would be.  I’m also thankful for the opportunity to share my musings about the future with all who read this blog…you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Blessings,

~Anna

Why I Chose Fontbonne

I remember the first time I visited Fontbonne, right around the time I had just started my associate’s degree. I drove up to the visitors parking in the front of Ryan Hall and right away I had a sense of being completely at home. I’m pretty sure I knew right then and there that I’d be attending Fontbonne. My passion is fine art so I was looking for a school that was both reasonably priced and had a strong art program. When I went on the campus tour with a student ambassador I made sure to ask to see the art building. As soon as we walked into the art building any doubt I might’ve had about where to get my undergrad just vanished. I felt like I could spend most of my days in that building and be happy as a clam. Fast forward almost three years and here I am, in my second semester here at Fontbonne, and I still get that same feeling every time I walk into the art building; for a little while this is home.

Spring Break Part 2: Easter Edition

Ok, so, this is a shortened school week for Easter, or as I like to call it Spring Break Part 2. Our first spring break earlier in March was pretty decent, the weather was ok, and it was mostly filled with work for a lot of us. But this weekend will be different! I’m not overly religious, but Easter has always been a holiday that I have cherished for the family time. I come from a decent sized family (20-30 people when we’re all together), we’ve always been very close knit and spending time together is important and cherished. This Easter, much like this past Thanksgiving and Christmas, is even more important. Back in August my grandpa (now 88 years old) was diagnosed with stage four cancer. This rattled the foundation of our family pretty hard, especially for those of us that live out of state (most of my family resides outside of Chicago and just over the border in Wisconsin). Since the diagnosis my grandpa has been doing really well, keeping up with his exercises and keeping a healthy appetite. Everyone else in the family visits home as often as possible, helping my grandma out when she needs it, and enjoying every second we get to spend with everyone. We don’t think of my grandpas’ diagnosis as a tragedy, he’s lived a long life, full of love and memories; rather, this is an opportunity to be even more grateful for the time we do have with him. So this weekend I will happily make the five hour drive north, help cook an awesome Easter brunch, and laugh, a lot, and love very single moment of it. Enjoy this second spring break, go visit with your family and friends, or call them, tell them how much you love them, laugh with them over good jokes and memories. Cherish the moments, that’s what’s truly important in life.

Lucy… I’m Home!

Here I am, exiting off highway 40, listening to Latch by Sam Smith. It wasn’t until I passed the legendary corner Walgreens that it hit me that I was headed to Fontbonne University. How did this summer baby (who loves school but also appreciates the ever-so-glorious three-month break) find her way back onto a college campus? Granted it was for a quick stop at one of my favorite libraries, but still I wondered ‘Wow, I have somehow managed to end up back here!’ I chuckled at what I though was just a passing thought.

As soon as I stepped out of my car, I realized I was wrong. I happily began to take in the calming scene of my campus. I felt my heart warm as I began to smile. I believe that is the true feeling of joy, when you can smile at nothing in paticular. It was a mix of both excitement and comfort, as if I had just stepped into my home after a long trip. It was then that I realized how much I truly love Fontbonne University.

Whenever I am here I know I am surrounded by genuine people who truly value education. They not only embrace every student, but they also act as living examples of how hard work leads to success. Popular writer Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr said “Where we love is home- home that our feet may leave but not our hearts.” I left Fontbonne that day not only thankful for another two weeks of summer vacation (Fun and Rest — Yayy!), but also eager. I was eager to return back to Fontbonne, a place where my heart feels at home!

 

Last Few Weeks in Illinois

I just got back to STL from spending some weeks back home in Illinois. Which was my last. Illinois will no longer be my physical home come July. My parents will be living in Florida, and I will still be in STL. Its a scary thing. I have to make a decision where I am going to go after the fall semester since I will be graduated. I decided to move to Colorado after graduation. To start a new chapter of my life with my boyfriend. Finally ending the long distance. It will be great to be a normal couple. While I was home, he came to visit! Which was awesome and amazing. I loved it. We saw a lot of movies; Godzilla, X-Men, and Captain America 2. Also, exploring the Chicagoland area. Illinois will always be my state, and Chicago will always be my city.

‘UnderGraditude’


Packing can be a real pain...

Hello everybody!

I am so thrilled to be blogging for Fontbonne now, as I love to write and share my thoughts, stories, etc. As you can see, this past weekend, unlike the last, I paid a visit to my humble abode! I was quite excited to catch up with some fellow friends of mine from my workplace as well as go home to a fresh batch of apple crisp – DELICIOUS.

There really is no place like home though. Sure, we like to be independent and ‘on our own, ‘but I don’t think anyone is ever completely on their own. I suppose that’s food for thought! Just remember to place a sort of intrinsic value on your family because they have done more for you than you can imagine. So, the next time you visit back home from college or wherever, give your family a simple “Thank you” for their support and guidance. They will be just as grateful – I promise. Anyways, ta ta for now!

Summer Comes…

Considering the fact that I’ve spent so much time this summer stressing about the future, I find it odd that suddenly my worries have evaporated, leaving behind nothing but this odd mix of new feelings, ones like peacefulness and acceptance and hope and excitement, the same ones I used to have when I thought about all of the potential that fills the road ahead of me (Pretty sure that’s a massive run-on sentence. Sorry.). Where will I go? Who will I become? Finally, there are no limits anymore.

I’ve also spent a lot of time stressing over other peoples’ journeys, asking if, because the path I’m taking is different than theirs, I’m somehow behind in life or just don’t measure up. But again, this stupid anxiety is being replaced by a new, more positive affirmation: that I should embrace the weird twists and turns that make up my story, because they’re kind of really awesome.

But enough of the future—I want to enjoy the here and the now. On my run the other morning, as I was descending one of the Monster Hills in my neighborhood and I looked out on the horizon to see the blue morning sky kissing the open fields of hay bales below, then back down ahead of me to see the wildflowers in the field to my right, I remembered how happy I am to be here, at home. To be running a lot and finally getting chafe marks and blisters again. To be up and finished with my workout before anyone else in my family is awake.

So on that note, here it is: home.



-Carly

“Babys” by Bon Iver

You’re Turning Into Something You Are Not.

I remember my very first day at Fontbonne. Well, okay, I remember the day I moved into the Joe. I remember the night before I moved in pretty clearly, too, along with the two days or so leading up to it. I remember being in high school and being so ready to move on. Gosh, I HATED high school. I loathed the place. My best friend did as well, and we were both ready to get far, far away from it. She, being a Mormon, moved out West to go to Brigham Young in Idaho (Yes, there is a version in Utah as well). Frequently she’ll send me gorgeous photos via text of some beautiful location she’s visiting for fun. Because according to her, frequent outdoor adventures are the norm for kids out there our age. Anyhow, I was done with high school. And all during that summer before my freshman year, I was super excited to go off to college and start a new chapter. But that all changed a day or two before I was actually supposed to leave. All of a sudden, I felt scared. I didn’t want to go. What if my mom was sad with me gone? Sure, my brother was over at SLU (Heck, he was getting ready to leave the country with his girlfriend for a semester.). But still, the thought of somebody being sad always puts a knot in my stomach. I wouldn’t have it.

The day I was to move in, my overprotective dad (who still doesn’t want me running in Forest Park. Oh well.) gave me a talk about all sorts of things that the little naïve version of myself didn’t want to hear. If I wasn’t scared or turned off to the idea of going, I really was after that conversation. I guess after that I just kind of closed down, before I had even stepped foot onto campus, and I never really opened up my mind to embrace my situation.

I still go home every weekend. I used to tell myself that in doing so, I was taking the easy way out. And to some extent, yeah, I guess you could say that. It meant I didn’t have to deal with trying to entertain myself or meet new people or what have you. But on the other hand, home was, and is, well, home. Read: I feel most myself here. And maybe that’s why now I still pack up half of my dorm every weekend to head south, and why I don’t think it’s something I should be apologizing for or beating myself up over or a logical reason to tell myself I’m a big baby who will never make it to Washington or Colorado or Alaska (okay not really here, but I bet it’s beautiful). Because that’s just not true, and it’s totally not fair to myself.

There are things about St. Louis I love, yes. But at the same time, something about it just doesn’t click with me. Kind of like the dietetics program. Something didn’t click with me when I was in my old major, so I left. I remember over spring break, I was feeling pretty babyish. And I probably sounded like it too, when I whined that I was too old to be at home and that April would be the month that I wouldn’t leave school at all. Yes, I declared, I would stay in the city every weekend. For the most part, I did, as my time at home was limited to maybe an evening or a random day each weekend.

At the time, I felt so desperately that I had something to prove, but in the end, what do I have to show for it? I remember that on those weekends I had to venture down to use the laundry room in Medaille on the evenings (this was a first). One night as I was down there by myself, folding up my new yellow long sleeve running shirt (don’t ask me how I remember that that was what I was folding. I just do.), I caught myself feeling…empty. Fake. I hadn’t proved anything to anybody. If anything, I was even more unsatisfied than before. I may not have felt it quite as clearly as I do now whenever I look back on those sad, confusing weekends, but there’s no denying that something felt off to me at the time. There I was, thinking I was being the Best Version of Myself by forcing myself into doing something that just wasn’t me, because I had somehow convinced myself that the BVM (Best Version of Me…let’s abbreviate it from here on out for the sake of simplicity.) was some fake big-shot who was too good and too big for home, and that being a college student meant I had to take on that role and grow up at some point.

For somebody with an A- in organic chemistry to show for both semesters (I don’t like to brag, and I’m not full of myself by any means. But I’m still healthily proud about this.), I sure can be a big dummy sometimes. I mean, does that make any sense, my reasoning for staying at school? No! How is being somebody other than myself, all for the sake of trying to measure up to the other kids around the country who have no problem with staying at school for months on end because I’m insecure with what makes me happy (and, ultimately, me), equivalent to being the BVM? It’s not! It so, so is not. And every now and then, when I feel myself feeling weirdly insecure or insignificant next to the fresh-out-of-high-school kids I’ll be lifeguarding with this year (when the Water Park actually opens because it’s not raining or too cold so I can make some money already), I catch myself having that urge bubbling up inside of me to prove myself yet again. I find myself thinking, “Yeah, well, I’m a fancy Clayton resident, so there, you Mizzou-bound tigers.” And I do it all out of insecurity. Isn’t that just stupid, that I have to take on a role, put on an act that makes me feel empty and totally unlike myself all because I feel like I don’t measure up? I think it is. I think it’s sad and pathetic of me and I know it’s the reason for the knot in my stomach I’ve experienced since April. That knot is there, telling myself, “Carly, you’re bigger than this. And I won’t let you eat until you see that already.”

I remember last spring feeling a similar urge to prove myself. So I joined a club I didn’t care about, really, because I felt I wasn’t involved or much of a force to be reckoned with on campus (despite my A-‘s in organic. Okay I’ll shut up about it now.). So all year this school year, I dragged myself to meetings for that said club, contributing little, if anything, to the organization. And I did it out of insecurity, once again.

As I reflect on these mistakes and the reasons why I made them, I’m beginning to see a bit of a pattern. The BVM isn’t somebody totally different than who I am. No, I don’t need to change and stay at school if I don’t want to or join a club I could care less about, all because I feel, for some bizarre reason, insignificant. No, the BVM is quite the opposite: the BVM is the same person, but with a different perspective instead. She does things because she wants to do them because they make her feel full and alive and happy, not because she “should” or because everyone else is doing them. But more importantly, she’s happy with herself and she finally sees herself for what she really is: an excellent student (A-! Organic chem.!) with a plethora of interests and passions and ambitions who has so much she wants to do and see. Babyish loser? I don’t think so! And I can’t believe I would ever use such harsh words to describe myself.

Maybe your self-esteem is through the roof. Even so, there’s still something to learn from all of this: do what YOU want to do in college. Listen to yourself, and be okay with what yourself has to say to you (say what?), as I’m working on this summer. And most importantly, remember this quote (I’m not letting you go without one):

“You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody.” -Maya Angelou

-Carly

“High and Dry” by Radiohead

Easter Chaos

I have two big reasons why I love Easter so much. Saturday we celebrate with my father’s side, and Sunday we go to my mother’s side. Easter is full of bright colors and celebration. We feast on a home-cooked meal and enjoy each other’s company. Each side of the family has well over 40 people. It is such a blessing that I am close to all of my cousins. It’s really nice to hear what they are all up to. They were my very first friends growing up, and I love how we all stay in touch. Even though I was only home for a short amount of time, I feel like I packed my schedule with various activities with my siblings. One night, my brother and I went to Walmart, and we each get three of our favorite foods. They don’t have to go with each other whatsoever, but we come home and pig out on it all while we catch up. Then my little sister and I had a blast shopping and driving around her new jeep. I love being that older sister to whom they come to for anything and everything. It felt so good when I took off for college Sunday and my brother and sister send me a loving text message saying they always miss me when I leave. Saturday and Sunday was a pure joy to see all my family that I don’t normally get to see.