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.
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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.