The Road I Traveled Series

The Road I Traveled: Meet Elizabeth

“Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

This series highlights young professionals and their stories, because no matter our path we all have a little to share and a lot to learn. Read and learn from past feature posts HERE.

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Hey friends! As always, I am excited to share my next guest with you and the first for the series in 2018. I met Elizabeth only a little over a year ago in a young adults small group we were both in, but she gained so much my respect in that short amount time. I was bummed that she moved at the end of last summer, but of course happy for her since it was a move that she had been patiently working toward. Plus, the move was to the Pacific Northwest, so can I really blame her?!

Anyway, Elizabeth has one of those personalities that make you feel at ease. She’s both quirky and an old soul, has such a big heart for others and is a great listener. Although we are really close in age, I often almost felt as if she took on the role of a big sister. Below she says, “I do believe that life has a way of always getting you exactly where you need to be,” which is a sentiment that I really appreciate and can relate to. I thought her guest post was both comical and insightful, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Plus, if you are fan of The Bachelor franchise, you’ll be happy to know that you aren’t the only one who lists being a fan as one of your hobbies 🙂

-Amanda 

Name: Elizabeth Grimes
Age: 28
Hometown: Southern California
College: Bachelors: University of California San Diego (UCSD) // Masters: California State University San Bernardino (CSUSB)
Degree(s): Bachelors: Political Science – International Relations // Masters: Public Administration – Information Assurance and Security Management
Current Location: Seattle, WA
Current Job: IT Specialist – Information Security

Background Story:
Right away it is probably best to explain that as an adolescent I never really thought I would live this long, which means that all of my decisions have come out of a place of “Wait, I have to decide where to go to college? … Four years later, I am still here; now I have to do something when I graduate college? … All right well I have a master’s now, and I guess I am here for a while, so let’s adventure!!” And no, I am not terminally ill; I think I just watched Little Women too much growing up and it gave me this weird sense that I was going to have the same demise as the character Beth. Or maybe it just became such a good explanation for why I hated making decisions that I morphed it into an actual memory. We may never know. But here I still am! I do not believe everything happens for a reason (that is a deeper discussion for another time) but I do believe that life has a way of always getting you exactly where you need to be. And for me, right now, that is the greater Seattle area working for the Navy in Cybersecurity – a career I never knew existed until five years ago.

College

How did you choose your college and your major?
In high school, I was more interested in history and yearbook than I was in science and math, so choosing to major in Political Science with an emphasis in International Relations was pretty straightforward. I thought I may want to be a teacher, or after watching the movie The Interpreter, some sort of international diplomat. In the last couple years of high school, I was able to go to Morocco for a couple weeks with a team from my church to teach an English camp for kids, and spent two weeks in New York and DC with Lead America – a leadership forum with an emphasis in diplomacy. Along with being a Christian and having the ideals of impacting the world with love, these opportunities and an interest in service landed me at UCSD to major in Poli Sci IR. I could give the long explanation of all the schools I applied to and how it all whittled down, but ultimately I chose UCSD because it was affordable and lauded a good study abroad program — which I never took advantage of, but hey, it got me to go there. My one piece of advice to a student in their senior year of high school: Choosing a college because of affordability is the BEST reason to choose a college, and I think everyone should do it. I know that I speak from a place of privilege that UCSD was affordable for my family, but if community college or a trade school is someone’s best option, I would recommend doing that. College is 100% what you put into it.

Jumping ahead to what got me to CSUSB to study Cybersecurity for my master’s, well that’s where God really went to work. You couldn’t get me out of undergrad fast enough; I was so done always have an assignment due, a paper to write, or a test to take. I could write a book on how in the world I then ended up in graduate school, but the short run-on sentence version is: I got restless at my post-grad job as an administrative assistant and decided I wanted to work for the government, but that I didn’t know enough and should get my master’s in something, but that I didn’t want to pay for said master’s because I didn’t know exactly how to then get a job in the government. Notice a theme of making a decision on education out of affordability? It is the best. Through crazy kismet, God-driven, serendipitous, coincidental, life happenstance, I got into the Scholarship for Service (SFS) CyberCorps program at CSUSB having no technical background but a simple logic that: If the government needs people in cybersecurity, and I want to do something that the government needs, then I will do cybersecurity!

What were you involved with outside of class? Organizations? Internships?
I will go with organizations for my undergrad and internships for my masters. I was on executive leadership in Sigma Kappa Sorority and Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. I cannot say enough good things about Greek life. It is the primary reason I stuck it out and finished college; It gave me social and leadership skills that you cannot get anywhere else (what other organization teaches you how to speed date with other women once a year for recruitment?); and I met the most incredible women that I never would have crossed paths with otherwise. Intervarsity kept me grounded in the faith I grew up in, while expanding my understanding of cultural diversity and making some of my best friends to this day. Together, they kept me incredibly busy and made college an experience instead of a degree. Over the summers, I worked at different non-profits from my hometown in telefundraising and food service, and the summer before my senior year, I served with Children of the Nations for 8 weeks in Uganda. THAT was my version of study abroad, and is also a story for another time (see my blog post titled He Stays the Same on elizgrimes.wordpress.com if you want to know more about it.)

Part of my scholarship program was to do a ten week internship with a government agency in Cybersecurity. I lived in DC for the summer and interned with the Department of Homeland Security in their Cybersecurity Education and Awareness Branch. Interning was the best way to learn what it is to be a public servant within the federal government. If I had known it at the time, I would have made more of an effort to intern during my undergrad, but like I said — life gets you exactly where you need to be.

Post Grad

Tell us about your career so far?
Probably best to explain that my job according to the government for my internship and the last two years of my career is an Information Technology Specialist (IT Specialist) in Information Security (InfoSec). But that is just the formal title and what does that even mean? After grad school, I moved to DC and worked as an IT Security Auditor in the Office of Inspector General in the Department of Commerce. I was there for two years, thus completing my scholarship for service commitment to the government. I really enjoyed the work and people I worked with, but the east coast, metropolis, long distance relationship life just isn’t for me. Through the experience I gained in the OIG at Commerce and connections I had from my master’s program, I was able to get a job with the Navy in the Pacific Northwest. This was also a completely God-driven, fell in my lap, couldn’t be more perfect for me adventure. I have been in this job working as an information system security engineer on Naval submarine projects for three months now, and I have never been more challenged or more proud of myself in my worklife.

How have your experiences and involvement in college set you up for success in your career and life post grad?
Remember when I talked about how awesome Greek life is? Well interviewing for a job and working on a team are some of the things that being in Sigma Kappa set me up for success in my career. I loved my sisters, but were some of them as different from me as night and day, and were we all better humans because of it? Yes. And is that what you encounter in your career and post grad life? Yes. I also think that the nature of my scholarship program, in a field that I was completely new to, set me up for a fake it ‘til you make it, problem solving, and work hard attitude that has gained me a lot of respect in the workplace. It can be hard being the youngest one in a group, or in my case sometimes the only female, but coming from CSUSB’s cyber program’s atmosphere that encouraged and challenged me didn’t just set me up for success but truly catapulted me into it. Along with God and life getting me where I need to be, I am also a firm believer in sharing the credit for any of my success with the incredible humans who walked ahead of me, alongside me, and behind me in every element of my life. They are the ones who set me up for success, and I feel like I am just along for the ride!

On the flip side, what are the biggest challenges or differences you’ve experienced post grad that you didn’t expect or didn’t feel prepared for?
I have already talked a bit to the challenge that comes from being in a field where I may be younger or a minority gender, but those were expected and I was sufficiently prepared for them. My first year out of college I remember not being prepared for the “this is it” aspect of life. Prior to graduating, my entire life had been a set of structure and milestones laid out before me: elementary school, middle school, high school, college. Society has fine-tuned this process for us, with pretty minor decision making necessary on our part. (Because like I said, college is what you make of it, not where you make it.) But after I graduated, there was this life in front of me that I had near absolute control of where its phases began and ended. It was daunting and a little depressing at first. We just do this until we die? For some, the natural inclination is that marriage is the next milestone or children or buying a house, but that was too ambiguous and at the time, unattainable for me. I still don’t even want kids and a house only seems cool now because it’s more economical. Additionally, even now that I have found who I want to partner in life with, getting married doesn’t feel like the next milestone I can structure my life by in the way graduating from college did, nor, I would argue, should it. While my scholarship program gave me a structure of two years for a degree and at least two years working for the government after, the year I had between my undergrad and grad school alerted me that “this is it” was coming again soon. It made such a difference to be prepared for it by the time I finished my masters, because then life was about living in the now and not the what’s next. Let me tell you there is nothing more freeing in life than living now; than recognizing that life got you here, so here must be where you are supposed to be, so why not stay awhile and enjoy it for what it is? (As I mentioned before that I must share credit where it is due, I should call attention to the fact that I cannot take full credit for coming to terms with this post-grad challenge. I am so lucky that an incredible man came into my life and continues to love me into this mindset of living in the present.)

What path are you looking to take next? Any long-term goals?
See previous question; I am just so happy to be here! Although, I do desperately want a dog, so maybe we’ll count that as the next path I am looking to take. And I guess maybe a house to give the dog the most freedom possible 🙂

What does life look like right now? Hobbies and interests? What outside of work are you passionate about?
Someone at my new job asked me what my hobbies were, and after stressfully scrambling in my brain for “what in the world am I doing with my life?!” I landed on: The Bachelor. Laugh all you want, because I am laughing too. Now what makes a television show a hobby? Well when you watch all the shows in the franchise: Bachelor, Bachelorette, Bachelor Pad, Bachelor in Paradise, (and let’s not forget Winter Games coming soon!), sometimes blog about it, keep up with all the most interesting contestants from the last few years on social media, have group texts and instagram DM chats about it, investigate all the scandals down to every correlating detail you’ve deduced from said social media you follow, THEN I think it becomes a hobby. I think it is one of the most fascinating social experiments ever, and I am so here for it.

Just for Fun

What is essential to your morning routine to start the day off right?
Breakfast. Breakfast is essential. I don’t mean a granola bar on the way out the door; granola bars are for mid-morning snack a few hours later. I mean sitting down at a table and eating a bowl of cereal or a couple eggs or a bowl of fruit and yogurt.

Do you have a must-have vice like caffeine or item you can’t live without in your workspace?
I wouldn’t call this a must-have, but I have photos of my loved ones on my desk and it gives me life. It is also a great conversation piece if you update them to keep them current.

If you were to have another career, all limitations aside, what would it be?
A flight attendant. That is actually what I decided I wanted to be as I was finishing college. You don’t even need a college degree for that, so you can imagine why those last few months of school were difficult. I love traveling, and I am pretty even tempered when people get ridiculous about a situation. But it just so happens that in yet another one of life’s ways of getting me where I need to be — my boyfriend is a pilot. So looks like I have the best of all worlds after all and can stick to my day job.

Moment of truth, what do you really miss about college?
My friends! In college your network all live in the same city and have relatively similar frivolous schedules and financial commitments. It is a plus to now have friends all over the world to visit, but man was it convenient when so many of them just lived with you.

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Elizabeth, thank you so much for taking the time to be my guest and share your story. We miss you so much here in DC, but hopefully we can catch up when I am in Seattle this summer!

Cheers!

So There's That Series

So There’s That Vol. 28

{Sort of like  a “Friday Five”  or a “Life Lately” except it’s probably not Friday, and I gave up on the idea of a catchy alliteration. These are some bits and pieces of my not-so-glam 20-something life. See past posts HERE}

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What Do You Want to Read on My Blog?

First and foremost, my blog is my way of journaling. It’s my scrapbook and my way of keeping “my people” updated on my life. With that said, I would love any feedback on what other content people might be interested in seeing added! Or what have I done in the past, that you would like to see more of.

Please let me know!

In Case You Missed It On the Blog in November and December

  1. A Week in the Midwest
  2. The Road I Traveled: Meet Amanda
  3. Love Letter: To My Family’s Flower Shop on its 30th Anniversary
  4. So There’s That Vol. 27
  5. The Road I Traveled: Meet Zech
  6. The Road I Traveled: Meet Lyndsey
  7. The Road I Traveled: Meet Emily

Welcoming Miss Callie Elizabeth

Richole and I have been best friends since we met in the first grade, so I was so excited when she welcomed her second little bundle, daughter Callie Elizabeth, on December 13 (a week after her due date!) Richole is already a wonderful mama to son Wesley, who will be 2 in March, so I was so happy that she now has one of each! I got to snuggle little Callie when I was home for Christmas vacation when she was just 9 days old!

Girlfriends

December was a bit of a hard month for me (though January is looking to be about the same), but I just want to share that I was so thankful for these girls and their friendship. I chatted a bit in my 2017 year in review blog post about how navigating friendship as an adult can be hard. But these girls were there for me when I didn’t expect it, and its just such a good feeling to have people in your corner, especially when you live so far away from your family and closest friends.

Sunday Brunch.

The Greatest Showman

I am LOVE LOVE LOVED this music! Les Miserables is my favorite musical (and one of my favorite movies), so I was already a big Hugh Jackman fan, but this movie really surprised me. I had seen the previews and thought it looked really cute, but I was pleasantly surprised that I loved it as much as I did. Even my sister, who proclaims often that she hates musicals, said she loved. Because I always like to read up on movies, their back stories and how they were made, I think I loved this movie more knowing that it was a big passion project of Hugh’s (and others) that took more than 7 years before they finally were able to make it. Plus, aside from it being a fun movie all around, it also dives into a few themes that are SO important for people of all ages.

Anyway, until further notice I will be playing the soundtrack on repeat on Spotify.

Home for the Holidays

I had a wonderful 9 days at home in Oregon with my family and friends, including lots of time with everyone’s favorite babe, Sawyer June!

2017 – Year in Review

Recapped my year HERE!

Top 20 Favorite Pictures From My Camera in 2017

Last week on the blog, I rounded up my favorites from my DSLR camera in 2017.

purple orchid with namemark

Favorite Things {in 2017} I Need to Tell You About Right Now

Last week, I also rounded up my new favorite things and obsessions in a new series, which featured Game of Thrones, Trader Joe’s, The Home Edit and more…

insta post

Out and About

A few snippets (and Snapchats) of life lately.


Shout out to my co-worker and friend Stephanie! These party favors were so creative and cute!

Update: Sawyer can get to her toes on her own now to eat them. (This was a struggle when I was home for Christmas 🙂 )

My Life in Memes

Memes that are speaking to me right now… both thought provoking and just plain funny.


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So, There’s That.

Cheers!

Photography, Year in Review

Top 20 Favorite Pictures From My Camera in 2017

This post was actually something that I had thought of doing at the end of 2016, but never made it happen. But after another year of fun experiences behind my camera, I decided I needed to make it happen this time!

I always want to make it clear to others that I don’t think of myself as a photographer. I know a few things from practicing and being a communications professional, but I have way too much respect and admiration for both friends and strangers who take photos for a living, to claim to be anything more than an amateur.

For example, I took my camera out with me when I was feeding cows with my Dad when I was home for Christmas. Dad was taking a bale out with the tractor, which meant that the cows would let me get pretty close. Plus, it had snowed the day before and around mid-morning it was beautiful and sunny, so I just knew I could get some pretty good photos!… And guess who didn’t realize until JUST LAST NIGHT that I never had an SD card in camera the whole time, so all those photos were gone the second after I took them #notarealphotographer.

Regardless, photography is something that I really do enjoy and from time to time some of the pictures that I take aren’t half bad for an amateur (especially when the location is gorgeous).

So, in no particular order, these are my top 20 photos that I took in 2017. I originally tried to just pick 10 photos but it was impossible because of my big trip to Thailand where I saw so many beautiful things!

Enjoy!

“Docked” at a private island on the Andaman Sea near Phuket, Thailand. (More photos like this.)

Karon Beach in Phuket, Thailand. (More photos like this.)

Karon Beach in Phuket, Thailand. (More photos like this.)

On the Andaman See near Phuket, Thailand. (More photos like this.)

An island snack in Thailand (bananas and purple potatoes). (More photos like this.)

Elephant in Phuket, Thailand. (More photos like this.)

Jim Thompson House in Bangkok, Thailand. Thompson played a big role in revitalizing the Thai silk industry after World War II. (More photos like this.)

Jim Thompson House in Bangkok, Thailand. Thompson played a big role in revitalizing the Thai silk industry after World War II. (More photos like this.)


Flowers at the Pak Khlong Talat flower market in Bangkok, Thailand. (More photos like this.)

Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand. (More photos like this.)

Wat Pho Temple in Bangkok, Thailand. (More photos like this.)


Touring a cookie and cracker manufacturer (that uses U.S. wheat flour) outside Bangkok, Thailand, with the 2017 U.S. Wheat Associates South Asia Board Team. (More photos like this.)


Paul Bunyon’s Foot on the hike to Gem Lake near Estes Park, Colorado. (More photos like this.)


Nothing spectacular about the quality of this picture, except that it is hilarious. Thanks Mom 🙂 (Up at Gem Lake near Estes Park, Colorado) (More photos like this.)


This was NOT on zoom! (Up at Gem Lake near Estes Park, Colorado) (More photos like this.)

Hard Red Winter Wheat Harvest in North Central Kansas. (More pictures like this.)

My family pup Jack. (More pictures like this.)

Early morning walk around Phillips Reservoir near Sumpter, Oregon, in the Blue Mountains. (More pictures like this.)

My best friend Megan in the Blue Mountains in Oregon. (More pictures like this.)

Obviously I didn’t take this one myself (thanks Megan!), but I wanted to include it because I really like. In this picture I know I was relaxed, in my happy place (my family cabin in the Blue Mountains) and surrounded by my family and best friend. It is certainly not a perfect picture in many ways, but its very me 🙂

Cheers!

Favorite Things I Need to Tell You about Right Now

Favorite Things {in 2017} I Need to Tell You About Right Now

A few weeks ago I saw a lot of bloggers with posts centering around their “favorite things of 2017.” Most of these posts focused specifically on categories of products like beauty, fashion, home decor, etc. I thought it would be fun to do my own list for the year, but with a little bit of a twist 🙂 These lists also started to make me think of two things: the MTV show that was called “Best of (insert year)” or something along those lines where each episode focused on all of the trends, news, phenomenon’s that were big in pop culture that given year.  The second is a similar series “3 Things You Need to Know About” from a blogger I regularly follow (and you should too!)

So this is my “Best of 2017,” covering what trends I was into, random finds and the things I became obsessed with. I should also add that this post in not sponsored in any way. I just genuinely enjoy it all. I actually I think I might make this a quarterly piece moving forward.

Trader Joe’s

I have become a part of the cult and am volunteering myself to be their poster child. Practically anytime someone refers to Trader Joe’s I have to reign in my excited response of how in love I am with that place. I think it’s important for people to understand that I loathe grocery shopping. In college I would always try to convince my roommates to come with me and to this day I’ll call my mom up to chat while I’m shopping which is always a clear mistake because I can’t actually multi-task. Its also taken me a good portion of my almost-3-years living in the DC area to adapt to smaller weekly shopping trips and balancing my grocery budget out with the fact that you inevitably eat out more while living in the city. But Trader Joe’s has changed all of that. I like the environment of the store, its quality vs. price ratio always shocks me and I just really love so many of the products.  Specifically, for someone who cooks for one and doesn’t like to cook, I really do think that doing the bulk of my shopping there has helped me make healthier decisions, explore a bit more with cooking and has cut down on my food waste. Plus, I love that there are so many random finds that end up being new favorites. I could really do an entire blog post this. But until that time some of my favorites are:

Fresh flowers, candles, Black Cold Brew Coffee (in the can), Citterio Genoa and Provolone snack packs, deli fruit and nut spinach salad, beef tamales (the “handcrafted” ones with 2 in a bag), tubs of soup in the deli section, good AND affordable wine, the fresh asparagus/mushroom/onion mix, fresh pre-made vegetable kabobs, almond butter, steel cut oatmeal, frozen asparagus risotto, frozen vegetable stir fry, olive oil popcorn, scone and muffin mixes, whole wheat toaster waffles, chili lime seasoning

Nickel & Suede Earrings

I honestly can’t remember where I discovered these but I am obsessed! These leather earrings are essentially weight-less, come in a few different sizes and shapes, and I think the quality is great. In their original teardrop style I prefer the medium size. The rose gold pair were my first and their leather is a bit lighter than the others which does tend to make them curl a tiny bit but I’ve just stuck them in a book overnight a few times and they were fine. I have always been into big and flashy earrings, but as I get older I really don’t like when they are too heavy and I like how versatile these are with my clothes. Plus, the couple who own the company started it in their basement in Kansas City, and I am always a big fan of a good small business story. I love them so much I gifted three pairs at Christmas this year.

Game of Thrones

I finally jumped on the bandwagon, and spent about three months binge watching the series. I always knew that it was probably something I would like, but for many years none of my friends were watching it and I typically like to have people to discuss shows with. But two of my best friends finally got in to it and practically drug me along with them. I probably would have finished it a lot more quickly but I took about a three week break after watching the “Hold the Door” episode because I just couldn’t deal…

Harry Styles

Half of you are rolling your eyes at me and the other half is nodding in agreement. I shamelessly admit to jamming to One Direction in the car with my roommates in college, but regardless of your sentiment toward the group, don’t condemn Harry as a solo artist just yet. His debut album is SO SO GOOD! Its soulful with more intricate lyrics, in more of a Lumineers and Mumford and Sons type of way, and you’ll realize that being part of a boy band really didn’t do him justice. My favorites off the album are “Two Ghosts”, “Sweet Creature” and “Ever Since New York.” He also recorded a cover of Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush” that makes me think it should have been his song from the start (and I love LBT’s version).

Filly Flair

This spring one of my best friends turned me on to this online fashion retailer out of South Dakota, and now it is one of my favorites. They have a lot of fun dresses, but they also have a great selection of what I consider staples for mixing and matching. I usually find that online retailers aren’t consistent at being true to size, but this one has been the exception so far. Plus, once again, it started as a small business by a woman entrepreneur, which I love and actually follow on Instagram because she engages with her customers there.

All of the items I have from there are not in stock so I can’t show any pictures from the site and this picture is the only one I have on hand of me wearing something from the boutique… which is odd because I practically lived in a basic black tank top dress from there this past summer. So much so that I regret not buying it in other colors too.

The Home Edit

This duo and their company make their living by organizing (mainly famous) people’s lives… you know the magazine worthy Instagram pictures you see of perfectly curated pantries? Yah, they do that, and then offer tips, tricks and products you can buy on their website. But the real reason I am obsessed with The Home Edit is because of two ladies behind it are HILARIOUS and share my affinity for good grammar. They chronicle their real-life sarcasm and adventures via InstaStories, and last year they finally started to sell shirts with their funny, often-used phrases. For Christmas I received the “Surviving Not Thriving” sweatshirt from my friend Brandi, who is equally obsessed.

InstaStories

Personally, I’d venture to say that in regards to social media platforms, InstaStories owned 2017 across the board. I know it became my go-to for following people on social media over scrolling through Facebook and even regular Instagram posts, which seems to be more of a time suck.

FabFitFun

I LOVE THIS BOX. PERIOD.
Maybe a year ago or so, I decided that I wanted to try out some sort of box service and started looking around at what would be the best bang for my buck and would fit me best. I settled on FabFitFun, which sends you four boxes a year – one for each season. I chose it because: it was the most well-rounded, meaning it covers beauty, fitness, decor, fashion and hobbies; it sends you full-size products instead of samples; and the retail value of one box is typically more then you pay for the entire year subscription.

So after a year of four boxes, I am sold! Out of the four boxes there is only one thing I can remember that I flat out didn’t like at all. Past that, there were maybe maximum 5 or 6 things that just either weren’t my personal style or preference, and so I just re-gifted those items, which was kind of fun to do anyway. Everything else, I have LOVED and there are a few things that I do plan on buying again for myself or as gifts from the original retailers. Boxes like these aren’t for everyone, but as someone who likes to try new things, but doesn’t particularly like to aimlessly shop, this is a fun surprise to gift yourself with a few times a year. Below is what came in the most recent Winter box and were all thing that I loved.

If you are interested in these, let me know because I have 3 starter boxes that I can give away (you would just pay the shipping). I also have this referral link – http://xo.fff.me/hy0DY – which gives both of us a discount off a box if you use it to sign up.

And of course… Miss Sawyer June

Because more than any trend or material thing I’ve been loving recently, Sawyer June and her baby talk have been my favorite thing of all 🙂

Should I make posts like these a semi-regular thing? Let me know!

Cheers!

Linking up with both the Friday Favorites crew (here, here and here) and The Blended Blog.

Capture

Family, Oregon

Home for the Holidays 2017

Originally, I had every intention of spending my holiday vacation time getting ahead on some blogging for the new year. But I ended up sort of naturally taking somewhat of a break from all things technology-related, and I am not one bit mad about it. Obviously my subconscious knew I needed it. But I am back to the regular grind, and now that I spent my first week in the new year getting myself organized for 2018, I want to jump back into a few posts to wrap up 2017.

This year I was able to go home to Oregon for Christmas for 9 days (plus 2 travel days) and overall I’d say it was a great, relaxing time with my family and friends. I saw the new Star Wars movie with my Uncle Josh (our yearly holiday tradition), as well as The Greatest Showman with my mom, sister and Grammy. Both were great movies and, as expected, I loved Hugh Jackman! Its just fun when you can tell that an actor put so much into a role. So yes, if you were to check my Spotify lately, the movie’s soundtrack is what is playing. I caught up with a few old friends, including Richole, who had just welcomed her new daughter Callie, earlier in the month on December 13. As usual, I spent some time at my family’s flower shop, helping out a little bit here and there, but mostly just distracting everyone from doing their work. I also traveled to Portland for a long day trip with my Grampy to watch my Uncle Jay coach his high school girl’s basketball team in a tournament and then over to the Moda Center to watch the Blazers beat the 76ers. I also spent time with dad feeding cows (a separate post on that later this week!) and shopping with my mom and sister. But most of our evenings were spent just the four of us by the fireplace watching a movie.

Of course, the main highlight was spending as much time as I could with my cousin Sawyer. She is just such a fun, sweet baby and definitely has the spotlight in my family right now.

Here’s just a few snapshots of my break.

On this particular day, I had Sawyer ALL DAY while her parents spent a day in Portland. All things considered we had a pretty good day together, except that I contributed to the demise of her napping schedule and she wouldn’t let me put her down for one second to put on my makeup. #parentingcrashcourse

It’s amazing what an adorable 5 month old baby will convince you to do.

Ego cousins!

Christmas morning with this babe.



Our Grampy is crazy, I’ve tried to warn her 🙂

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!

Cheers!

Year in Review

2017 – A Year in Review

Let me annoy you by being cliche and stating that “I can’t believe 2017 went by so quickly.” 🙂

But really, 2017 felt like a WHIRLWIND for me.  Personally, my year was filled with good health (well, for the most part), great adventures and even greater people. I worked through the hard knocks and challenges, and feel content that I was able to grow through most of those experiences. Looking at the world around me, it would be wrong to ignore that 2017 was certainly a hard year, but I choose to believe that this world is full of good people who aim to make 2018 better.

Looking back, I’d probably summarize 2017 as bittersweet. It’s a strange feeling to recognize being both happy and sad, and even more strange to be relatively OK with it. I met someone that became really special to me, and I did not expect that I would end 2017 not knowing if that person would be in my life going into the new year. At first I struggled with writing a year in review at all, or including him in it, but this blog is first and foremost my journal and scrapbook, and cherry picking memories is not my style. And regardless if our time is done,  those memories are still very special to me.

Around mid-December, I was sitting at CVS waiting to get my flu shot and was flipping through a GQ magazine and stopped at an interview with Senator John McCain. Regardless of whether you agree with his politics or not, in my mind its pretty hard to not acknowledge or respect that he has seen a fair amount of adversity in his lifetime. With that in mind, the very last statement really struck me:

No matter what 2017 held or what is yet to come in 2018, I hope that we can all benefit from walking through life with that attitude. I know I am going to try.

Now let’s look back at my busy year…

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In 2017, I traveled to 2 countries and 6 states (and two of them twice!)…

In February, I went on a trip of a lifetime to Bangkok, Thailand, and Manila, Philippines. The first half of my trip was a work trip to accompany three U.S. wheat farmers on a board team experience. The second half of the trip was spent on vacation in Bangkok and Phuket with my grandparents and Great Aunt Diane.  Find all of my posts about the trip HERE.

That trip won the year when it came to travel, but it wasn’t my only one. In April, Sam and I went down to Blacksburg to visit my friend Chelsea for the Virginia Tech spring game. In May, I went to Estes Park, Colorado for my work World Staff Conference. I invited my Mom to join me for the week and we spent a few extra days hiking and enjoying quick visits with friends. In June, I traveled to Manhattan, Kansas for the National Festival of Bread and squeezed in some friend time again. At the beginning of July, I made the short drive over to Annapolis, Maryland (for the first time!) for my work summer board meeting. Sam joined me a day before the meeting and we explored the downtown area. At the end of July, I attended the Agriculture Media Summit in Snowbird, Utah. In August, I went home to Oregon and finally took my best friend Megan with me to show her where I grew up. Next, I traveled to Kansas City, Missouri in November for the AFA Alliance Forum and the National Association of Farm Broadcasting’s Trade Talk event. In between the two events, I spent a few days down in Wichita, Kansas to visit Megan. Finally, I rounded out the year in December with a trip home to Oregon for Christmas.

In 2017, I continued to work in a job that gives me purpose…

In March, I celebrated two years with U.S. Wheat Associates and was promoted to Assistant Director of Communications in July. My goal has always been to work in a job I love, that challenges me and pushes me to become a better communicator, and to use those skills working for farmers. Thankfully, all of that continues to ring true for me.

In 2017, my family welcomed Sawyer June…

After 23 years, my sister and I finally have an Ego cousin! Sawyer June joined our family on July 13 and its safe to say that she has stole the spotlight. Shortly, after she was born I wrote her this love letter. Oh, and #sorrynosorry that she has taken over my Instagram…

In 2017, my Grammy and Grampy visited me in Washington, D.C…

In October, my grandparents came for four days to visit me and experience Washington, D.C. They were actually the ones who helped move from Kansas to D.C. almost three years ago now (what!?) but we didn’t have the time for any site-seeing. I have a really special relationship with my grandparents so I was so excited to finally share my current home with them.

In 2017, I learned that adult friendships are hard, but so very important…

I think that one of the hardest things about being a 20-something is friendship. Everyone’s lives are so busy and usually full of change, and while I think that is awesome, it tends to take a toll. It is hard to be there for that college friend who now lives across the country instead of down the hallway, and while you might have so many great memories with childhood friends, it can be hard to connect with them when you are no longer in the same stage of life. And then there is the challenge of attempting to make new adult friends, which I swear is equal to the ups and downs of dating 🙂 But I’ve learned this year especially, that friendship requires a whole lot of grace. Some people are in your life for only a season, and that’s OK. And some people are in for the long haul, but sometimes they’ll have more to give and sometimes they’ll need more from you. I am thankful for both types of friends in 2017, who filled my days with fun memories and were supportive, sometimes when I least expected it.

In 2017, I filled my days with celebrations, new experiences, things that I love and both big and small moments worth remembering…

Peace out 2017, here’s to believing the best is yet to come in 2018.

P.S. Because I always include music at the end of my Year in Review posts… and because my love for Ed Sheeran knows no limits 🙂

Cheers.

The Road I Traveled Series

The Road I Traveled: Meet Emily

“Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

This series highlights young professionals and their stories, because no matter our path we all have a little to share and a lot to learn. Read and learn from past feature posts HERE.

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My next guest on the series is the very first person I met when I arrived in Manhattan to start my freshman year at K-State (well, other than my student visit as a high school senior.) I vividly remember walking in the front door at the Smurthwaite Scholarship/Leadership House for Women with my Dad and being greeted by Emily’s friendly smile. I also remember after my Dad said hello, he added “what the hell is that sound out there?” …It was August in Kansas, so the cicadas were in full force, but we don’t have those in the Pacific Northwest and didn’t know what they were. I was completely embarrassed but Emily was pretty amused, so I guess I didn’t ruin her first impression of me 🙂

I share that partially because it helps to paint a picture of how warm, friendly and lighthearted Emily is. She really looked out for me especially during my first semester as I navigated being an out of state student, for which I will forever be so grateful for. Even though she ended up transferring schools after my freshman year (which was a really brave decision!), she certainly left an impression on me in many ways. Emily is compassionate, fun, creative and shares my love for a good story. She has a lot of lessons and experiences I think many can relate to and appreciate, so I hope you enjoy hearing her story!

-Amanda 

Name: Emily Snell
Age: 28
Hometown: Ellinwood, KS
College: Lipscomb University and Kansas State University
Degree(s): Bachelor of Arts in Communication, Graduate Certificate in Conflict Management
Current Location: Nashville, TN
Current Job: Team Assistant at The Upper Room

College

What were you involved with outside of class? Organizations? Internships?
K-State: Smurthwaite Scholarship/Leadership House – regular house activities plus serving as Outreach Recruitment Chair, copy editing and writing for The Collegian, campus ministry, volunteering in my church’s nursery
Lipscomb: internship at United Methodist Communications, lots of part time jobs – student worker in the university business office, nanny, freelance writer for United Methodist Communications, managing editor & then editor-in-chief for the university’s student news website Lumination Network

What were your biggest challenges or obstacles in college? Anything you would change?
After sophomore year, I decided to move to Nashville and transfer schools. I loved K-State, but I felt a calling from God to go to Nashville. So, despite the fact that it was very out of character for me, I went. Transferring to a new school and moving to a new city where I knew only one person was a big adjustment. I had to pay my own rent, so it was difficult at times to manage multiple part-time jobs while also going to class and doing homework. And living off campus and having so many responsibilities didn’t leave me with a lot of opportunities to meet other students or find new friends. I wasn’t involved on campus much except for my participation in journalism activities. I had great friends within the department, but otherwise, I felt a little disconnected from the rest of the student body. On a small campus, that feels strange. But I was grateful for my small circle of good friends, and I’m still connected with those people today.

Another challenge came at the very end of college. I loved my time at Lipscomb, and I’m so grateful for the way it has shaped my life. But I did have to grieve some when the reality hit me that I would never be a K-State alum. I grew up in a family that, as we like to say, “bleeds purple.” When I came back to Manhattan in May 2012 to watch some friends graduate, I felt genuine sorrow that I was not on the stage with them. As much as I loved Lipscomb, it didn’t quite feel right to know that K-State isn’t my alma mater. I’m proud of Lipscomb and the good work they do in the Nashville community, and I’m thankful for the people I met there who have helped shape me. My diploma may not come from the university I dreamed about, but it’s from a place that I love and appreciate. Sometimes the real picture of life doesn’t turn out the way we imagined, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t beautiful!

 

What one piece of advice would you give a student during their senior year?
Be flexible with your future job expectations and be creative about finding ways to do what you love. Your “dream job” may not appear immediately, so identify what you’re passionate about and what brings you joy and then create a way to implement that in your life, even if it’s not an income-producing opportunity right away. And as you carve out a path for your career, try to be patient with the journey. In my experience, figuring out a meaningful work life can take time, and just like a real journey, the path may not be straight forward.


Post Grad

Tell us about your career so far?
When I graduated, I didn’t have a job lined up, so I kept nannying and freelancing while I interviewed for positions at various companies. After a few months, Lipscomb’s Business Office (where I had worked as a student) contacted me about an opening. I thought it would be something to keep me afloat for a few months, but it turned into something I really enjoyed. I worked there as cashier for a year and then was promoted to Student Accounts Representative. I held that position for 3 years and really expanded my knowledge and skills. I grew in ways that I didn’t expect. Serving in that role pushed me to improve my math skills, my leadership abilities, and my capacity for dealing with conflict. Collecting money is not easy…

During my time at Lipscomb, I also worked as a freelance journalist. Freelancing gave me an opportunity to pursue my passions for writing and storytelling. I wrote regularly for Interpreter magazine, the publication for The United Methodist Church, and also wrote two cover stories for Sisterhood magazine. Working for Sisterhood gave me the chance to interview Mandisa and Kari Jobe, two Christian musicians that I love. It was really fun and a special privilege!

This fall I began a new job at The Upper Room. Though my time at Lipscomb was wonderful, I had begun to feel that I needed a transition if I was going to continue learning and growing. And I wanted to do what I really love and more fully embrace my gifts and my journalism/English degree. I now serve as Team Assistant for our Administration, Interpretation, and Development team. In this role, every day looks different – sometimes I’m processing invoices or coordinating logistics for meetings; other times I’m proofreading website content; other times I’m acting as a sounding board for our publisher’s latest ideas; other times I’m calling donors to thank them for supporting our work. I’ve also had the opportunity to meet with our books & marketing team to select covers for new books we’re publishing, and I’ve worked with the editions team on selecting meditations for our daily devotional guide. Regardless of the specific tasks, each day I know that I’m a part of an organization that makes a difference in the spiritual lives of people around the world. That brings me a great sense of satisfaction.

How have your experiences and involvement in college set you up for success in your career and life post grad?
My internship, campus publication experience, and freelance opportunities in college really served me well with finding more freelance jobs after graduation. I think my ability to maintain multiple jobs while also being a full-time student during college prepared me for balancing a full-time job and part-time job as an adult.

On the flip side, what are the biggest challenges or differences you’ve experienced post grad that you didn’t expect or didn’t feel prepared for?
Insurance – Why is health insurance so complex and confusing?? I never feel very confident that I’ve made the right choice on the best health care plan! I need a health advisor, please.

Budgeting – I’m bad at this game. Life is just too fun and too full of opportunities, and my bank account is always resisting my urge to enjoy! 😉 Let’s hope that before I’m 30, I learn how to balance my finances more strategically.

At this stage, what are a few of your strengths and weaknesses?
Anticipating needs and meeting them thoroughly/efficiently

Connecting with people and building relationships

Editing – If there’s a typo, I’ll find it. If you need something proofread, I’m your girl!

Organizing

How do you stay motivated when work gets really busy or difficult?
Make a thorough to-do list

Take a walk

Practice some deep breathing

Work-life balance? How do you stay afloat and refreshed?

Read

Journal – Pen to paper continues to be one of the best ways for me to know myself and feel grounded in life.

Walk – It’s amazing how a little time on a nature trail can restore me.

Spend time with friends

What in your #PostGradLife are you most proud of so far?
Conflict Management certificate – During my time in the Business Office, I realized that I needed to gain some knowledge and skills around addressing conflict. No one in my office seemed prepared or certain of how to handle the difficult conversations we had each day. So, I decided to take advantage of Lipscomb’s Institute for Conflict Management. I took 15 hours of graduate coursework, earned a certificate in conflict management, and then put those skills to work in my daily interactions with customers. I also did my best to share that knowledge with my team so that we could all do better and feel more confident.

Leadership in Business Office – Though I was one of the youngest employees in the office, I had more experience in the office than many of my coworkers. (The stress of the job leads to a lot of turnover, so several employees came in after I started.) These coworkers looked to me for leadership and support, and I did my best to, as one of my professors would say, “lead up and lead out” with those in my office.

Mentoring college women – I love college students, and I consider it an honor to be a mentor in the lives of several young women at Lipscomb. Being with them brings me joy and teaches me about the many opportunities we have to learn from one another.

Freelance work – especially my interviews with Mandisa and Kari Jobe

What does life look like right now? Hobbies and interests? What outside of work are you passionate about?
The Contributor – On Saturday mornings, I volunteer at a local organization that provides economic opportunities for homeless and formerly homeless people in the Nashville area. These men and women teach me so much about determination, resilience, and positivity.

Ethos Church – I’m really involved in my church, serving on the set up team, participating in a house church (small group), and offering leadership & insight & support wherever I can.

Being an aunt – I have 3-year-old nephew Walter and an almost-1-year-old niece Elanor. They are precious, and being their aunt is so fun!

Compassion International – I sponsor 3 children with Compassion International. Being connected with these kids and their families reminds me of the similarities among people all over the world. Their letters make me smile. Sponsoring them helps me know that I’m doing something meaningful with my life. I’m participating in something bigger than myself and spending my money in a way that makes a lifetime impact on these kids and their families. In 2014, I was able to travel to Burkina Faso and meet Veronique, my sweet little girl there. It was an amazing experience that continues to shape me!

What path are you looking to take next? Any long-term goals?
Becoming an editor in the publishing world or working in communications/marketing/development for a non-profit… I’m 28 and I still don’t know what I want to do with my life!

Even though I’m type A and a chronic overachiever, I’m actually not much of a goal-setter. I prefer to pay attention to what’s happening in the here and now and be open to opportunities as they come my way. I trust that as I say yes to what seems right in the current season, it will lead me toward a good path for the future. Maybe that’s foolish. But I think, for me, it’s a healthy balance of being proactive while maintaining open hands and an open heart.

Just for Fun

What is essential to your morning routine to start the day off right?

Coffee + a little time to sit quietly in my recliner reading and enjoying said coffee 🙂

Do you have a must-have vice like caffeine or item you can’t live without in your workspace?
Spotify – must have music!

Good pens

Post it notes

What does it say about me if my vices are post-it notes and good pens? I’m a nerd, but I’ve learned to embrace it!

If you were to have another career, all limitations aside, what would it be?
Professor

University president

CEO of a startup

COO at a tech company

Boss lady at a New York fashion mag

Moment of truth, what do you really miss about college?
I miss the freedom of pre-adulthood… plenty of independence but few real responsibilities like paying bills or choosing health insurance

Living with my best friends and always having someone to hang out with

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Emily took me to my very first K-State football game during my freshman year in 2009. Look how little we look!

Emily, thank you so much for participating as a guest on my series. Hoping my plan for a trip to Nashville next year works out!

Cheers!