Life Lessons 21-25…and then some

For those of you who know me, you probably know that my birthday has come and gone over a few weeks ago! Although I had intended to finish my 25 life lessons before my birthday, my life was a little hectic in the week leading up to it (I was at a national conference during the few days leading up to my birthday and was busy at the conference).

In addition, I had a lot of difficulty finalizing those last five lessons. What did I want to say? What were the most important lessons that I learned in the first quarter of my life that I really thought were worth sharing?

There’s so many things that I could say or wanted to say that it was hard to narrow it down to only five. So, I didn’t…and I tried to figure out what were the most important things to know. Of the lessons I had in mind, what were the lessons that I would want my (future) kids to know? When I do have children, what will I teach them? What are some of the first things that I will teach them? Well, there are a lot of things we can and should teach our kids, but below are some of the lessons I learned that I know I will most definitely pass onto my future offspring.

Life Lesson #21: Be there. Each year, the catholic schools in my diocese have a baccalaureate mass the night before commencement. In the past few years, the diocese’s relatively new bishop presides over the mass. In one of his homilies in recent years, he talked about the importance of being there for others. He challenged the seniors and the congregation to live a life in which they would be there for others at all times.

Be there for your friends and family to help them celebrate when things go well in their lives, but also be there for them when the going gets tough. Hold out a hand to a person who is need, and be willing to offer a warm embrace when all someone needs is a hug.

I’d like to expound upon the part about being there others in things aren’t going so great. It’s easy to be there for others when things are going well and you can join in the celebrations. However, we must also be there for others when things aren’t so pleasant. When a friend is upset and questioning a life decision, or when they’re depressed about something going on in their life, we must also be there for them in those times of need for those are the times when they probably need us most. Anyone can be there for the good times; everyone wants to take part in a celebration. However, the real challenge is to be there in these difficult times.

Growing up, my parents always stressed the importance of being there for others especially in these difficult times. I cannot tell you how many times I went to calling hours as a child before I fully comprehended the finality of death. I know that some people would disagree with children going to calling hours at a young age, but in retrospect, I think having those experiences taught me a lot. They taught me what it meant to be there for others when they needed it most. They made it a lot easier to deal with these situations as an adult. Had I not had these experiences, it would have been a lot more challenging for me to handle these challenges.

I’d also like to think that when we find ourselves in difficult situations, we’d want someone to be there for us, so why shouldn’t we be there for others during these times?

 

Life Lesson #22: DO something that scares you.

This is a tough one and it’s a lesson that I’m still coming to terms with. I think the lesson here is not to let fear rule your life. It’s easy to have fears and to let these thoughts or worries impact your decisions. However, you can’t live in a bubble. If you avoided everything that scared you and made decisions based solely on things that didn’t scare you, I’d venture to say that you’d probably miss out on a whole lot. This can apply to anything – whether it’s entering a relationship rather than avoiding one for fear of getting hurt, or going on a crazy adventure rather than staying inside because you’re afraid of the number of things that can go wrong. As many of you know, I’ll be applying for graduate school in the fall. I think I’m beginning to have a better sense of what I want to study which is awesome. However, with this new found understanding has come a realization that many of the schools that have what I want are all around the country from out west to the deep south. The thought of spending 4 years there and being away from my family and friends terrifies me. It’s such a scary thought and it makes me really nervous to think about the possibility of moving to one of these places. However, I know that applying to these places is the best thing I can do for my future. I’d like to think that if I applied and got into one of these schools that I’d have a better chance of being able to eventually make my way back to Ohio in a relatively short period of time. I guess you’d say that I’m following one of my previous life lessons in thinking about the future.

Life Lesson #23: Accept that not everyone will like you.

As a kid, we want everyone to like us. We want to be friends with everyone we meet (or at the very least, we want to be invited to all of our classmates’ birthday parties) and if someone tells us they feel otherwise, our feelings are immediately crushed.

I’m telling you now that it’s OK. Someone may not like you and you may have no idea why. Or, it might be because you ticked them off and you were aware of that crucial moment that changed everything. Or, it could be because of the way you look at them, or the way you talk, or the way you dress, or a million other things. It truly could be anything and there’s no true way of knowing the cause.

Don’t fret and don’t waste time or energy on these people (Side lesson: also realize that you can’t please everyone, so don’t worry about making everyone happy. It truly is impossible).

Life Lesson #24: Be someone that you would want your kid to admire.

As some point in our lives, we’ve all looked up to someone. We’ve found a role model who has led us in the right direction and have used them as a guide for how to act in certain situations. Perhaps we have multiple role models who have inspired or challenged us to be better and do better – it’s possible that this person has challenged us to do something we otherwise would have never considered. Be this type of person for someone else.

I want to inspire people i want someone to look at me and say, "because of you i didn't give up" - just girly things

Life Lesson #25: Don’t compare yourself to others.

This one is challenging and it may be something that you struggle with for a long time. Don’t compare yourself with others. Someone will always be smarter, faster, prettier…and the list continues.

There is always going to be someone who has an edge over you in some way, shape, or form. But it doesn’t matter. Believe that you are good at what you do and fully capable of facing any challenge that comes your way.

Life Lesson #26: Always, always, always believe in yourself. 

This one is simple.

Believe in yourself. Always.

Ignore your negative self-talk. Rid yourself of people who put you down. And just believe.

nina dobrev, quotes, sayings, believe yourself, quote

Bonus Lesson: Don’t think too hard and overanalyze everything. Just live your life 😉

A Few of My Favorite Things

You kids need to get out of my room.... you're all up in my personal space.

You kids need to get out of my room…. you’re all up in my personal space.

I’m not entirely sure how it’s December already. Summer doesn’t seem like it was so very long ago, and I can’t remember having a distinct “fall” season this year. I’m sure no one needs to tell you that all of this means that the holiday season is well under way. Christmas trees were on sale before Halloween, and radio stations started playing every version of “The Christmas Song” the week before Thanksgiving. To the Targets, Macy’s, Wal-Marts, and other retail stores of the world, I simply say,

Stop it. Just staaahp, please.

One of the songs I’ve noticed on the radio is “My Favorite Things,” which I had never actually considered to be a Christmas song. I just thought it was the song Maria sang when the Von Trapp kids were afraid of the rain. My cousin’s daughter is in love with The Sound of Music, and it’s been quite a while since I’ve seen it. I recently read that Carrie Underwood will be playing the part of the rebellious nun-turned governess in NBC’s remake of The Sound of Music, which is scheduled to air sometime during the holiday season in 2013. (I think I’ll pass on that version.) The song made me think about a few of my favorite things, whether they’re cool products I’ve seen in stores, shows, holiday traditions, or other items… that rhyme with “things.” 😉

Bath & Body Work’s French Baguette Candle

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This candle is nothing short of amazing. It *literally* smells just like fresh-baked bread. Brian and my sister, Carmen, both make fun of me for my need to smell all the candles I see. I think it’s a tactile+smell thing; the act of picking up the candle and smelling it are soothing for me during a trip to a crowded mall. I’m sure you’ve smelled at least one candle in your life and thought to yourself, “You know, I wouldn’t mind living in between that space between the wax and the lid…” No? That’s just me? Ok, nevermind. Anyway, search for this one next time you’re in Bath & Body Works. You won’t be disappointed.

Adventure Time

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Is it weirdly animated? Yes. Is it aimed at young boys? Probably. But, over the past summer, I’ve become hooked on this cartoon. It’s about a boy named Finn and his magical dog, Jake, who encounter many strange adventures with plenty of odd characters in the Land of Ooo. Finn and Jake serve as the doers of good in Ooo, performing various knight-like tasks and protecting the citizens of Candy Kingdom, which is ruled by Princess Bubblegum. If my sister was a cartoon character, she would be Lumpy Space Princess.

Watching White Christmas

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White Christmas is one of the only holiday movies I actually enjoy watching. I remember my dad teaching me the song when I was little. Later on, one of my uncles introduced me to Bing Crosby, and I grew to appreciate the jazz standards. There’s something about the “Hey kids! Lets put on a show!” mentality that always seemed fun to me. When we were growing up, my sister and I would participate in “productions” with our cousins whenever they’d visit. They grew up on the other side of the world, so it was always a big event whenever they were here. One year, we performed our version of “The Nutcracker,” and I starred as Clara. White Christmas is a classic (and hello! Rosemary Clooney!), with so many great songs, including this one…

History Channel Series

history channel series

I’m fascinated by History Channel’s original programming, and this year, they really stepped up the game with Hatfields & McCoys, The Men Who Built America, and Mankind: The Story of All of Us. Hatfields & McCoys spurred my search this past summer into my family’s genealogy, since my mother’s family came from the same area in southern West Virginia where several events of this story unfolded. I really like how politicians, entrepreneurs and businessmen, news figures (like my manfriend, Brian Williams), and other public figures are used throughout the other series to help tell the story of the birth of America, the great wars, and the innovations that would change the world. Reruns of these shows are still better than new episodes of a lot of other shows.

Being Engaged!

my ring

I know, it’s on the wrong finger, we’re going to take it to get resized soon. I just really wanted to take it home to show my momma.

Yep, I’m engaged! The night before Thanksgiving, Brian made me a very happy gal and asked me to marry him. Two days before he asked me, I had interviewed for a part-time bridal consultant position, and after the interview, I met him for dinner at a Chinese restaurant. His fortune cookie wasn’t that great, but mine read “A good message is on it’s way to you.” Not twenty minutes later, I received a call from the store manager, offering me the position. I think my fortune cookie was extra-strength, since it held out for another few days. I’m beyond excited to spend the rest of my life with Brian, and I can’t wait to start planning, but first, I want to spend some time getting settled into my new job. Until then, I plan to start putting together my own wedding blog since I don’t want to overwhelm this blog with all of my wedding-related posts. (It’s a good thing I’ll be working at a place where I’ll be talking about weddings all the time.) Whenever that’s ready, I’ll share the link. I’m so happy that I’ll have my Dames by my side, too, along with my sister and best friend since pre-school, who is also in the process of planning her wedding. (All this wedding business makes that separate blog really necessary.) But anyway, yay!

What are some of your favorite things of the season? 

Pinterest Made Me Make It: Chocolate Cobbler

I know, I know. I’ve been a very naughty blogger. But, I’m back now! Job hunting is time, and brain, consuming…

In my absence, I’ve been spending a lot of time on Pinterest and have found a good number of awesome crafts and recipes that I’ve been trying. Some have worked out, some haven’t. And there are still many more that I haven’t yet had the time to attempt.

When I saw this recipe for Chocolate Cobbler last week, I knew that it would be one of the recipes I tried soon. I mean, really, who doesn’t love chocolate?

“Granny’s Chocolate Cobbler”

I found this recipe through this Pinterest-linked blog. The recipe, however, is actually from Tasty Kitchen recipe website contributor Susan Hawkins.

While I’ve eaten similar ooey-gooey chocolate concoctions before, I’ve never heard it called “cobbler” before. I mean, cobbler is supposed to include fruit, right?

Regardless of the name, Chocolate Cobbler is extremely easy to make (you don’t even need a mixer!) and doesn’t require any out of the ordinary ingredients.

Serves 10

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 7 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder, divided
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup (5 and 1/3 Tablespoons) melted butter
  • 1 and 1/2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 and 1/2 cups Hot Water

Tools:

  • Ceramic or glass oven safe baking dish, approx. 8 inches in diameter and 4 inches deep.
  • Spatula
  • Whisk
  • 2 mixing bowls, one large and one small.

Instructions:

1. In the large mixing bowl, combine the flour, Baking Powder, and salt. To these ingredients, add 3/4 cup of granulated sugar and 3 Tablespoons of cocoa powder.

2. Using the whisk, blend these dry ingredients together so they are mixed evenly.

3. Add the milk, melted butter, and vanilla extract to the mixture. Using the spatula, stir until the batter is thoroughly mixed and smooth. Set this bowl aside.

4. In a small mixing bowl, combine the remaining granulated sugar (1/2 cup), the remaining cocoa powder (4 Tablespoons), and the brown sugar. Use the whisk to evenly mix the sugars and cocoa.

5. Even though the original recipe does not direct you to grease the baking dish, I went ahead and sprayed mine with some cooking spray to be on the safe side.

6. Add the wet, batter-like mixture to the baking dish and spread it out evenly. Then, sprinkle the sugar and cocoa mixture evenly over the batter. It will look like this:

7. Finally, pour the hot water over the top of everything. DO NOT MIX IT. Just let it be.

8. Place the baking dish in a 350 degree oven and bake for 40 minutes. After 40 minutes, test the center of the cobbler with a toothpick. If it is still extremely wet when you pull it out, bake the cobbler for another 5 minutes. (NOTE: The toothpick will never come out completely clean since this is cobbler, and not cake or brownies. Use your best judgement.)

9. Remove the cobbler from the oven, let cool for at least 10 minutes and enjoy!

The cobbler is very similar to volcano cake or chocolate melting cake. It is meant to be eaten warm. The top is a crunchy, cake like crust and the inside is a molten chocolate sauce. Very good, but also best in small quantities. Add ice cream if desired — it is cobbler after all!

Note: I refrigerated the cobbler after people were done eating it. While I normally wouldn’t do this with brownies, cookies, or cake I wasn’t sure how the cobbler would behave since it was both wet and dry. (Better safe than sorry.)

I really liked this recipe, but I wonder how you could change it up a little bit. It would be interesting to try different types of chocolate (maybe dark chocolate) or possibly see how it behaved with different types of flour.

Love, happiness, marriage…AKA…Am I really that old?!

I admit it.

I’m a romantic at heart.

I love love.

Since I was a little girl, I’ve dreamed of what my perfect wedding would look like.

I imagined the dress (strapless, or with cap sleeves; ball gown; veil; white), the shoes (low heels, same color as my dress or matching the bridesmaid dresses), the bridal party (a compilation of family and friends from different parts of my fiance and I’s lives). I could see my parents walking me down the aisle. I could hear a close friend or family member performing the readings on the altar (with this being one of them).

And, I could even taste the plethora of cookies that would undoubtedly be making a statement at the reception. Mmm.

But not just yet…right? I mean, I’m only 23. I’m a little too young for that. I have enough trouble keeping track of myself, how could I be expected to keep track of someone else?!

And yet, within the past few months, a lot of people I’ve known have gotten engaged. In fact, two of my close friends are in the process of planning each of their weddings!

It’s a wonderful time. A happy time. And a…

FRIGHTENING TIME!

Despite all the excitement over a friend’s engagement, it quickly brings up thoughts about my own relationship status.

Me? Single (and searching).

My initial thought on hearing of someone’s engagement is something along the lines of, “YAY!!!! I’m SO excited and happy for you!” While my internal thought process goes something like this, “Seriously, another one?!? Are we really that old? Is that what I should be doing now? I guess I’m just going to become a cat lady for the rest of my life!”

It’s amazing to think how things related to marriage have changed over the years. For example, in 1980 the median age of men at first marriage was 24.7 and the median age of women was 22.0. In 2010, the median age of men increased to 28.7 and for women it was 26.7. (Good news-I’m only 23, so I still have some time!)

The point is, when I see my friends getting engaged, it scares me. I think about how I’m only 23 and still have to finish my master’s degree. And then I remember, I’m probably going to spend another 4-6 years obtaining my PhD. Which means I’ll be pushing 30 by the time I finish school (eek!) and get a job. Then hopefully (assuming someone will put up with my shenanigans) I will get married and start having kids (immediately…before I’m 40)!

Has anyone else ever had this feeling? Maybe not about the marriage thing, but just about getting older? Where you or your peers begin to do things that you think should be done by someone older? The thought I have is, “Wow. We’ve reached the age where this is what happens and is the expectation.”

When I was younger (i.e., high school and younger), I used to think that people in their 20s were mature and would be ready to take on grownup experiences (take that as you will). Now that I am that age, I think about how wrong I was. Although many of my peers may be ready for these things, I’m not…or am I? I don’t feel old…but does doing any of these things mean I have to be old? I only feel 23 (whatever that means).

It’s like all of a sudden, it hits you.

You. Are. A. Grown-Up.

You are ready to open the doors to so many opportunities that you never had access to before. You may not have the opportunity just yet, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not ready.

So, what’s the point of this ramble? Well, here’s one:

And, holy cow! I better get a move on =)

Just kidding. In reality, know that you can do your own thing. Weddings bring weddings, but they have to be for the right reason. There is no rush. There is no hurry.

…(but if you happen to know someone, feel free to send him my way 😉

Day in the Life: Student Affairs Professional Seeking a Job… Any Job.

Going on three months ago, I graduated (for the second time) as a proud alum of Youngstown State with a Masters of Science in Education, specializing in Student Affairs. I had chosen this field largely because of my extracurricular involvement as an undergrad and my interest in organizational politics. After five semesters of 14 hr days, often keeping me on campus till 11pm, hundreds of pages of papers, detailed projects, writing about my feelings, and a three and a half hour comprehensive written exam, I was qualified to cross the stage again, and this time, with a really fancy hood.

To be completely honest, the last three months of my life haven’t been particularly great. I won’t go into detail, but I’m still searching for my first post-college, adult job that requires one of my degrees. Yeah, it’s been frustrating, and I have been utilizing all the resources available to me. At times, its hard not to be discouraged, especially when its feels like the universe is rubbing it in my face that I don’t have the job yet. However, the family members, friends, and mentors I have reached out to have been nothing but supportive as my search continues. (Thanks, everybody!) A friend and former instructor put it to me this way: I may be perfect for a job, but the job just might not be perfect for me. I know I have a lot to offer any employer, and I would love to work at a college or university, helping students have the same kind of positive experience I was lucky enough to enjoy.

So, you may be wondering… what have I been doing to keep busy? Well, blogging here, to start. I won’t lie — it has been really nice to relax and do the things that I want to do on my own time. I wouldn’t trade my education for anything, but it didn’t leave a whole lot of time for activities. I’ve been catching up on TV via Netflix and Hulu Plus, getting out and walking, and reading the things that I want to read. The great thing about getting a degree, though, is that no matter what, no one can take that away. Regardless of what I’m doing, I’m still a Master of something, which is pretty neat to be able to say. I could tell you about all the things that I’ve been up to now that I’m a Master of Science (which is rather ironic for me, actually… I can’t science anything), but I thought it would be more interesting to show you….

Almost every morning, just like this. Since he’s a small dog, Toby actually makes for comfortable snuggling, unlike all those pictures out there of German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers pushing their person out of bed.

1. There are soooooooo many things on Pinterest…  2. That looks cool. Could I make that? 3. Nah, moving on.

Then I go on Pinterest for a while… a long, long while. There’s hot chocolate in that mug, I’ve never been a coffee drinker. I think I should try to get another degree in Pinning and Board Curation.

Toby has his own YSU leash. He majors in naps, with dual minors in lap-sitting and giving sad puppy face whenever you eat chicken.

If I’m at Brian’s, I’ll take advantage of the pool. Someday, I’ll have some semblance of a tan.

Gotta level up. I never really played video games when I was growing up. I was always too busy with school stuff and I didn’t find them that interesting anyway, so I have a lot of catching up to do.

1. Let’s see here.. what new positions are up?   2. Hmm… this one sounds pretty interesting…   3. Yeah, ok, I’ll apply for this one.   4. Ohmyglob, why are cover letters so exhausting?

This is pretty much how it is.

I’m not giving up just yet. I’m applying outside the world of academia to other jobs that suit me, and I’m considering selling some of my crafts online. (Let me know if you’re interested!) If things look up for me, I’ll let you know where I’ll be taking my talents through a LeBron James-style TV special. Check your local listings.