A Review – Part 1: Books

I’ve been thinking about this series for a long time. I’ve spoken about starting it several times, i’ve thought about publishing different versions, but it just didn’t feel authentic or right. Plus, nowadays everyone has a blog, and I recognize mine is just one of the many, but what makes it worth it are the awesome messages of support from readers I’ve never met but who seem to get why I started this blog in the first place.

So here it goes, an attempt to end the hiatus for real this time.

A Review of What’s Been Happenin’: Books

When I moved to Carrboro. I was scared out of my absolute-freaking mind. The support and encouragement from my mentors, family, and friends, was the security blanket I clung to for what felt like weeks. The bubble of comfort and “safety” I had in Asheville? Was popped without my permission (Or so it felt) and I was in a totally new place, without a clue of how to feel about my least favorite thing in the world – change.

But i’ll get into that later…. this post is going to recap for you all my academic experience for the past year. Which can arguably be summed up in a loud audible sigh.

First, a round of applause for my professors who challenged the mess out of me at UNC Asheville.

Second, a round of applause for my bosses/coworkers who taught me everything I know about professionalism and developed me as a leader, and employee.

Third, for my parents who taught me to be stubborn and raised me with a work ethic that makes me want to roll my eyes at my own self sometimes, but I digress.

What has Graduate School taught you so far?

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This is a question I get asked a lot. It’s hard to sum up the amount of notes taken or lectures and classes that I sat through because the learning process changed so much for me in grad school. And to be honest that I don’t think you realize how much you learn in that first year until you’re at work and spit out vocabulary words from your organizational theory course or cite case from public administration law as if it is the most natural thing of life. However, since the post is titled books, here is a quick list that I think sums up the year.

Stop ignoring your local governments like they are antiquated and don’t do anything. They do everything.

I came into my MPA program, not wanting to really go into local government, but rather understand it’s role in whatever career related to housing that I would end up choosing, and what I got instead of guidance on the housing piece was a whole lot of knowledge and understanding about how crucial local government is to everyday life.

And the sad thing is? We ignore them. We ignore it and take for granted what local government’s contribute to everyday life. We don’t understand what public servants really do. We rush to look at the state level (oh NC….ohhhhhh NC….) and the federal level like that’s where it ALL happens when that’s where A LOT happens but not ALL things happen.

From housing, to roads being paved, to public transportation. Safety, making the community look nice, programs for the young, old, and in between. Things are really really happening at the local level, and despite my resistance at first, meeting what’s felt like hundreds of county and town managers (really just dozens) across NC, has really put the role of local government into perspective. So I challenge you, look up your town or city’s official website/twitter, look at what they’re doing. Even if you don’t get involved. You’d really be surprised as to how much is going on.

I can’t run away from math anymore.

Ya’ll. I took budgeting this past semester. Had a phenomenal professor who was patient in every single way you could be patient, and I learned so much about math I didn’t understand before. And maybe it was just the practicality of the course and how I realized I had to actually understand the math she was describing and educating us about, but truth is, I just can’t run from it anymore. It’s been a good streak though. #RIPmathavoidance2012-2016

There are more and more acronyms being created everyday and ya’ll might as well start tracking them.

I’ve been hearing acronyms for things I didn’t realize had acronyms from day one of graduate school. Eventually most if not all were explained to me, but my goodness it was so daunting for the first few weeks. My most salient example however is from my first day of work this summer. I learned a total of 11 acronyms on my first day. ELEVEN. Come on housing world…. do better….

Procrastination is the devil.

All I have to say about this is that my worst nights (and some of the funniest) came from times I procrastinated and I never want to do it again, and am fully aware that come October (that’s my goal) that’ll probably not be realistic but hey… i’m trying.

A lot more goes into your environment than you realize.

This is kind of like the “stop ignoring your local government” lesson, but the planning version. This past year I decided to apply for the City & Regional Planning program, was accepted and will be officially joining in the fall as a dual degree student. However, I had the opportunity to take a workshop in the Spring, and it blew my mind on a weekly basis. Despite it being housing focused, it consistently explored the intersectionality between other policy areas and over time, I realized how interconnected the players that construct the towns and places we live and enjoy on a daily basis truly are.

Sleep. Please do it.

I can’t really talk about getting sleep because I started writing a part of this at 1:30 in the morning  BUT, the first year of graduate school has really taught me to value sleep. Partially because it would happen anyways, and partially because I didn’t like how my body was reacting without it. Sleep matters. Do you best to get it. #tipofthecentury

 

Of course there is more….

struggle story

So 6 items is not an accurate depiction of ALL that I learned, but these six I’ve listed above really capture the year in a nutshell.

My hope is that over time i’ll be able to change and grow from all of it, but for now I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

So, that’s why i’ve broken up this series into four sections: Books, Pugs, Stresses, and Joys.

We’ve covered books! So be on the lookout for Part 2: on Pugs coming soon.

 

As always, Much love!

SWC

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Annnnnd we’re back

My last blog post I did was somewhere back in October. A quote series. I had this idea to let all the quotes readers were sending to me – wreck my heart or challenge my mind in some way shape or form, and thought I would write about it on a consistent basis no problem.

Except, there was a problem.

It’s name? Grad School. Aka life. Aka the struggle. Aka ….. the reason behind why I’ve not blogged in over half a year.

And so upon my return the first thing I have to do is catch you all up.

New Series:

Books, Pugs, Joy and Stress – A review of what’s been happenin’

 

RETURNBLOGCover

 

First post will be up tomorrow! Enjoy, and as always…

 

Much love,

 

SWC

 

A year in review – 2015

Despite the radio silence on this blog since September… I’ve been thinking about what to post consistently.

I began the quote series in hopes of finding a flow again, finding a consistent slew of concepts and ideas to ramble on and on about, and even then, life got in the way. And so this post, the first of a really long time, is going to talk about that thing called “life” and how it felt this year.

With less than 3 hours left in 2015, I sit and think about everything that happened this year. I graduated from college, started graduate school, leased my first apartment, got my first non-school job, survived my first semester of grad school, spent an amazing three weeks in Colombia, made new friends, reunited with old ones… and did much much more.

SO if you asked me what I would call this year? I would say it was a year of accomplishments… and of first steps.

Year of Accomplishments

 

I start off with saying this was a year of accomplishments, because if I could count the number of major life checkpoints I crossed off this year.. well, the list would be kind of long. From academic, to professional, to personal, and even spiritual… This year has taught me the importance of really knowing who I am, spending time with those I love, and investing in things I care about.

From January through May – my life was a slew of snapshot moments, a constant feeling of   ” this is my last  – insert collegiate moment here-” and I felt like it was all going at warp speed.

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Last Winter Orientation – Jan 2015

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Senior Night February 2015- UNC Asheville

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Last Big South Tournament – March 2015

This phase of “lasts” made me appreciate the people around me more and more every day. Despite the stress and anxiety of wrapping up a four year academic career, and balancing what I realized too little too late was TOO much …. I wanted to show love to the people who helped me grow and take advantage of the moments we had left (and I say that it the least melodramatic tone ever).

So I said cheers to new and wonderful friendships…

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March 2015 – Just for the heck of it w/ Maya Newlin (moments after finding out I got accepted to my dream grad school)

I said cheers to the people who consistently cheer me on and make me laugh.

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The Trio – March 2015

 

 

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T&PP Family – SROW March 2015

And there were so many more individuals, professors, mentors, friends, church family, etc… that helped me come to a tough but great decision.

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Choosing Chapel Hill – #UNCMPA2017 – APRIL 2015

And the picture worthy moments kept coming, and I held on, I held on as much as I could and tried to enjoy the ride.

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Presenting my Senior Thesis – April 2015

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William & Ida Friday Award – April 2015

I think what I remember the most from the first half of the year especially, was being surrounded by this intricate, powerful, and beautiful network of support that I honestly believe is what got me through on the days or even weeks where I didn’t feel up to giving “life” my all.

I was surrounded by people who not only I looked up to (sometimes literally.. okay most of the time literally) but who challenged and pushed me to be the best person I could be, to produce the best work I could produce, and to stay as grounded as possible.

 

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Poli-Sci family

 

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Best Thesis Advisor EVER -Dr.Haschke

 

And the waterworks just started flowing you know? Tears, everywhere, I felt like a fountain from March through May, it was ridiculous.

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Last BSA Retreat – May 2015

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Donning of the Stoles – May 2015  ( Where Erin read a poem that basically made me ugly cry in public)

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Honors Program Family – May 2015

It all felt like a part of the countdown to the big day, graduation day.

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My Dean, My mentor, my friend, my person – May 2015

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My second family – the two that never let me give up – Dr. Dolly Jenkins-Mullen  & Dr. Dwight Mullen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A 1’s since Day 1 – Moe & Jacob

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Mom & Dad – Graduation Day –May 2015

And there are dozens more pictures that I could share to attempt to depict what the first half of the year felt like, but then this post would be too too too too long… and I haven’t even talked about my first steps yet.

My summer? Can be summed up into semi-deep philosophical conversations with a three year old, lots of walks with dogs, mountains, love, and the bible. Oh and before I move on… this happened …

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Villa de Lleyva – Colombia, South America (motherland part 1)

I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about the second half of 2015… after the summer… when this new post-grad – semi -adult phase began and brought in change after change after change… aka my worst nightmare.

Since August, I’ve met some brilliant amazing people. Made some friends that are starting to feel a bit like family. Realized that it IS possible for a place to feel like home again. Realized that budgeting is no joke. Gained respect for people who work in retail, and even more disillusion with those that feed into consumerism…. and much much more…

So here are a few pictures commemorating those things…

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Fresh Start – August 2015 

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My roommate Ashley, and classmate Angelica – two new, fierce, and brilliant woman in life thanks to #UNCMPA September 2015

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First NC State Fair – October 2015

 

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Another year older – October 2015

I traveled way more than I thought I would – and am very very excited for future trips to come.

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Washington D.C Fall Board Meeting for Americas Promise Alliance – October 2015

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Part of my UNCMPA Cohort – Friendsgiving November 2015

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Home away from Home –  Asheville, NC – November 2015

And again.. there are dozens more pictures where these came from, and the gratitude I feel to have been able to experience and be there for each moment is a bit overwhelming now that I think of it, and in many more ways than one, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I gained a lot this year, I lost a  bit too. But more importantly, i’d like to think I learned a lot as well, and grew. Which leads me to the next and last part of this super long post, my first steps of the year.

A year of First Steps…

I couldn’t say that this year was just about accomplishing things or checking off the things on my life bucket list… because it was trying and challenging and stressful in many ways.

Despite being surrounded by family and friends and a lot of love, I could feel a phase of my life ending and it was difficult to truly fathom that. It was difficult to let go while still feeling all the wonderful feelings of that phase.

So this year, particularly the second half, has been dedicated to taking the first steps towards many thing that I needed to do.

First steps towards being better at accepting change

I will forever love Asheville, North Carolina, and UNC Asheville, and all the people that made my experience there phenomenal, but holding on = holding back. And it wouldn’t do my time there, nor the lessons I learned from the wonderful people who taught me, any justice if I allowed the memory of that phase to hold me back.

First steps towards learning to let people go

I am one to hope, and I hold on to hope sometimes too long to the point of no return it feels like. And this year, I finally took my first steps towards discerning what hope is worth holding on to, and what hope isn’t.

I also learned to listen to my gut. To listen to my heart. And to listen to my head. A simultaneous and challenging process, but important. If it doesn’t feel right, chances are it isn’t. And if it causes you more pain that happiness, chances are it needs to be released.

First steps towards being independent and established

Despite the fact that the grad student budget is nothing to brag about, having a place of my own, a car, a job, and so idea of what I hope my future to look like… are the first steps towards being the full fledged adult, and woman I want to be.

Thank you 2015!

For teaching me, molding me, showing me, and inspiring me beyond my wildest dreams.

Welcome 2016!

I hope that you are full of more strength, adventures, love, faith, friendships, family, good health, and good times.

I thank God for the chance to embark on a new year and see another day of life.

For those reading, thank you !

Much love, and Happy New Year!

SWC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Redoing the puzzle : New Beginnings

Limbo Year

I lived the past year in a weird limbo. I was constantly planning and anticipating the Fall of 2016, I was applying, applying, applying non stop to everything and anything. Trying to put together a more concrete image of what this “bright future” everyone foreshadowed to. I was doing this, AND, I was trying to live in the moment. I went out more, I stared at my friends and tried to memorize their mannerisms. I really tried to sit in the moments. I really tried to compartmentalize all the good things that happened and were happening to me so that when it came time to leave, I could pick up my organized puzzle, put it back in frame or box and walk away scratch free. When really, it was like I had to corner pieces, a few pieces in the middle, and that’s about it. A big unfinished, awkward puzzle. That was senior year. So much happened. People ran in and out of my life. People became more invested in my life, and I felt like I was on, at all times. It was exhausting. It was exhilarating. It was depressing. It created a ton of anxiety. It created a bunch of great memories. It caused a bunch of laughters. It caused a lot of tears.

And I miss it.

Here’s the thing, I knew I would. I knew I would miss Asheville. My friends, my professors, my mentors, my role models. Even the familiar faces that had no real part in my life. I knew that my sappy self would miss all of that, and all of them. But I didn’t expect that I would miss something more than that… and miss it so deeply.

It’s not home, but it’s home ya know?

My definition of “home” was obliterated four years ago. And so I had to construct a new one. Honestly, I’d given up constructing it somewhere around sophomore year because I thought nothing could beat the definition I’d once had. And that’s exactly when it began to form.

Home was no longer a physical place.

My foundation was the memory of the smell of my mothers’ cooking, and the green color I convinced my parents to let the walls of my old room be. It was the memories of walking through a living room and seeing golf on the tv, and my dad snoring away on the couch. It was family lunches and dinners on the weekends. And random jam sessions in the kitchen. These pieces were my pipes.

And then this weird little city called Asheville just started building on top of it. It constructed its own pieces for the home puzzle. It gave me mountains and sights that reminded me of how big God is and how small I am, everyday. It gave me people who’d lived, fought, and felt more than they could teach but who would still try and teach it all anyways. It gave me an environment to work in. It gave me an environment to praise in. It gave me an environment to love in. It gave me an environment to feel safer in. It gave me a new place to call home, and a real address.

This weird little city changed my life, and it wasn’t just school, or church, or any of the organizations I was in or people I knew, it was all of it, every bit, every person combined.

And then they made me start the puzzle over.

Sometimes it astounds me that I wanted to move to New York. I mean I still would love to move to New York, and I think I would have been okay if I had moved there, but my goodness. Moving never comes with warning labels does it?

I always say, I’d rather move some where and have a reason to be there than for me to move just because.

That’s honestly just how my heart works. I’d rather know I have a 2 year program that requires me to be in Chapel Hill, than move to Chapel Hill because I think it’ll turn out ok. I’m not that spontaneous. It’s my life.

And so here I am, a brand new puzzle with brand new pieces. And I even think some of the pieces are missing.

So I’m writing, not because i’ve conquered this. I’m far from conquering it. But because I feel as though people tend to pretend that new things, like moving to a new city is easy. I’m not saying all people do it, I’m saying that we like to portray that this moving in and out of our comfort zone is a piece of cake. We compartmentalize. We try and douse the struggle and thus we barely even get to learn from it, until we move on to the next thing, and have the chance to learn from the struggle again.

So what am I learning from my struggle?

I think that there’s something to learn in the pain we feel when we leave things behind.

I think that leaving positive things behind is beautiful because sometimes we have a chance go back and visit those things, or even better, those people.

I think that hiding behind the puzzle you just put together and ignoring the fact that you have to put together a new one is counterproductive, and extremely draining ( currently working through that).

I think that it is perfectly fine, to not have the instagram picture perfect transition into a new life, or a new place.

Sometimes new beginnings need the chance to really begin.

Much love,

SWC

ADVENTURE BEGINS