The Road I Traveled Series

The Road I Traveled: Meet Rachel

“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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I think there is quote that says something about people being in our lives for “a reason, a season or a lifetime,” and I really believe that is true. I have now lived on the West Coast, in the Midwest and now on the East Coast, And between college and my short career, I’ve already had quite a few great experiences. But the most significant part of all of that to me is the different people I have crossed paths with. I think it is really powerful to think about how people flow in and out of our lives, sometimes because of an intentional decision, or something that is entirely out of our hands, and other times because of something simple and fleeting.

I’d like you to meet Rachel. I first met Rachel at some point in college, though to be honest, I really couldn’t tell you when. Rachel is childhood best friends with my college best friend, Megan, which is my complicated way of saying that we now share a lifelong best friend. Megan has always told me that Rachel and I are alike in many ways, and knowing a bit about her over the years, I’ve always had a lot of respect for her. Rachel is very creative, independent and has a kind, old soul. She recently has picked back up on blogging, and focuses on making everything in her life intentional – her conversations and relationships, how she treats herself and how she invests her time. Because of our mutual friend, I have been able to follow a bit of Rachel’s post grad journey and as I started this series, I knew Rachel would be someone that whose story I wanted to share.

-Amanda

the road i traveled RACHEL

Basics

Name: Rachel Williams
Age: 25
Hometown: Wichita, KS
College: Newman University, University of Denver
Degree(s): Bachelor of Arts in Communication, working on a Masters of Professional Studies in Organizational and Professional Communication
Current Location: Wichita, KS
Current Job: Communications Specialist at Spirit AeroSystems
Blog: Postcards by Rachel

College

How did you choose your college and your major?
Who remembers the great recession of 2008? I was lucky enough to turn 18 and pick my college right when the economy crashed. Newman University offered me a fantastic scholarship. I thought I wanted to go to KU, but it was cheaper for me to stay in Wichita and go to Newman. It turned out well and I ended up loving the experience (and meeting my husband!). I left undergrad with zero loans because of my decision to go to the less expensive school. I can’t say the same about grad school…

I started as a business major and changed to communications because the classes sounded a lot more fun. (And they were).

What were you involved with outside of class? Organizations? Internships?
The nice thing about attending a small school is I was able to get involved in almost everything. I played collegiate golf, sang in the honors choir for four years, tried being an RA, and studied abroad twice, once to Guatemala and then to Europe. I interned at United Way of the Plains and worked at The White Dress, a bridal shop.

graduation
Celebrating graduation with my husband Raymond.

What were your biggest challenges or obstacles in college? Anything you would change?
My dad died from cancer five weeks before graduation. It was crushing. Besides the overwhelming pain of losing him, in my grief, I lost touch with close college friends. Looking back, I wish we all had known how to communicate better. All I could see at the time was pain and grief. If I’d been able to tell them how I felt – overwhelmed, crushed, depressed and hurt – I think we would still be friends. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. People change and people drift apart.

What one piece of advice would you give a student during their senior year?
Be open to new ideas, people and experiences. Don’t take anything personally. Take an extra year and study abroad.

Post Grad

Tell us about your career so far?
Mid-senior year I started a job at the Museum of World Treasures in Wichita, KS. The Museum houses amazing exhibits – dinosaurs, mummies, military items and more – and I had the chance to work in a nonprofit while developing professional skills. I met amazing coworkers and still see them for drinks or dinner all the time. My boss was incredibly supportive when my dad died, when I got married, when I decided to enroll in grad school and when I ultimately left the organization. I worked in marketing and development there for almost three years before I started at Spirit AeroSystems. Spirit is the largest employer in Wichita; we design and build aerostructures for both commercial and defense programs. Working in Corporate Communications, I communicate with Spirit’s nearly 16k global employees daily. I work on both internal and external communication efforts for the company. It’s an amazing opportunity and I love my job.

Spirit
I love working in communications! You never know what fun opportunities might come up

How have your experiences and involvement in college set you up for success in your career and life post grad?
I worked with amazing professors who cared about me and knew my name. Some focused on professional skills, others on better understanding the world and people. Newman University employs some of the best professors I’ve ever met.

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?
Office politics.

What apps, technology and resources do you use regularly to stay organized and do your job?
Podio, Evernote, my iphone and my Macbook! Podio is an awesome project management app (best on desktop). I put everything into Evernote – work, grad school, and volunteer notes – so I can find everything in one place. Pro tip: organize by tags instead of Notebooks.

At this stage, what are a few of your strengths and weaknesses?
I worked really hard in the last year to be more intentional in my conversations, meetings and calendar. I have a weakness for wine and chocolate… and spending too much money traveling.

How do you stay motivated when work gets really busy or difficult?
Self-care. If I’m feeling overwhelmed instead of challenged, it usually means I’m not taking care of myself. For me, that can mean anything from a five-minute break to call my husband, taking a Saturday off to stay home, meeting up with my book club tribe, working out or making a cup of tea.

SanFran
Here’s a photo from Alcatraz on our latest trip to San Francisco in December

Work-life balance? How do you stay afloat and refreshed?
In the past year, I’ve realized I need to eat real food, get to the gym several times a week, and have quiet time before or after work to decompress and feel balanced.

What in your #PostGradLife are you most proud of so far?
I feel like I changed my life. I made intentional decisions to change my health, mindset and future. My husband and I live on the 24th floor of the tallest apartment building in Wichita. We decided not to sacrifice our urban living dreams to Kansas jobs. Right now, I’m in the middle of my second to third-ish Whole30, a nutritional program that revolutionized how I think about food and what I put in my body. We travel several times a year, I made new amazing friends founded on mutual support and I left my nonprofit job in such an open and honest way that a few months later they asked me to join the Board of Directors.

What does life look like right now? Hobbies and interests? What outside of work are you passionate about?
One class at a time, I’m plugging away at grad school. I’m a #Whole30 graduate and Paleo advocate! I’m a leader for Real Life Book Club, a women’s personal development group. I also curate a blog, Postcards by Rachel, where I document my journey of creating a more meaningful life, one conversation at a time. To round it out, I volunteer on the Museum’s board and I’m chairing the organization’s annual fundraiser committee.

Wedding
#whenyouworkatamuseum… you take wedding photos with a T.rex.

Just for Fun

What is essential to your morning routine to start the day off right?
Breakfast and coffee. On Thursdays, workouts with a personal trainer and Megan, my BFF that guest posts here sometimes. I’ve learned accountability is worth paying for.

Do you have a must-have vice like caffeine or item you can’t live without in your workspace?
Coffee in the morning, hot tea the rest of the day. Does my Macbook count?

If you were to have another career, all limitations aside, what would it be?
A yoga teacher, personal trainer, nutritionist, life coach or travel agent. Oh, was I supposed to pick one?

Moment of truth, what do you really miss about college?
Thanks to study abroad opportunities, my husband and I lived in Europe for four-five months. I think it cost us total about $10,000 (for the both of us). I think my summer in Guatemala cost me about $2,000. That is SO CHEAP. We’ll never be able to travel that cheap again.

Florida
Megan and I on a girl’s trip to Florida last summer (before we both lost 20 pounds – the Whole30 is legit).

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Rachel, thank you so much for being so sincere and sharing your story with me. I LOVE reading your blog posts and am inspired by the way you see the world. I am so glad that we both call that crazy girl our best friend and look forward to our paths crossing again in the future.

Cheers!

Year in Review

Where It All Begins: 2015, A Year in Review

With the new year approaching, I was struggling to come up with a witty way to review my 2015, like I did at the end of 2014. But then again, that post always makes me laugh, because so much was about to happen and I had NO CLUE. Over the past year, I’ve thought a lot about that new year’s celebrated on San Antonio Riverwalk with my friends during our Alamo Bowl trip. I remember being really happy, and though I had told myself two months before that I wasn’t going to look, but was going to be open to new job opportunities, I really did love my life in Kansas. I had no clue that just nine days later I was going to apply for a job in Washington D.C. and that a very short two months later I was going to start all over and move halfway across the country AGAIN to the place I had dreamed about since I was little.

2015 was full of adventure and taking risks. It was a year where I challenged myself and when I really learned about value. How to work toward better valuing my friends and family, criticism and praise, life and opportunity. Many of my values were strengthened and some I chose to question. And I learned to better value myself. In the book “Let’s All Be Brave” by Annie F. Downs that I have (very) slowly been working through there is a line that says, “–that I am who I am on purpose.” That thought really struck me and I’ve carried it with me ever since (literally, as the picture on my phone’s lock screen.). In the blogging world, a lot of people talk about choosing a “focus” word or phrase for the coming year and at the end of 2014, I thought I would join. My Grammy had given me a token that said “Shine From Within,” and I thought about how that sentiment could mean so many different things. I don’t know if I “focused” on that phrase as much as I said I would, but I do believe that I worked toward being my more authentic self. Of course there are always many more miles to go, and maybe I’ll find new definitions for that phrase, but I can say in full confidence, that I like where I am headed in 2016.

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Let’s not skip past 2015 though, because it’s certainly not a year that I ever want to forget.

In 2015, I took a new job and moved to Washington D.C.

On January 9th I heard about a job opening at U.S. Wheat Associates
On February 9th I accepted a job there as a Communications Specialist
On March 9th I was all moved in and had my first day as a “wheatie.”
And by April 9th, I knew I had found someplace special.
The learning curve is still really steep and I might live by “fake it till you make it” forever, but I honestly love my job. I love my office environment, the work, the farmers I work for and feel so lucky to have so many great co-workers. I love the feeling that I’m doing something that benefits others and in an industry that I believe in with every part of me.

I REALLY miss both Kansas and Oregon, but I am confident that this is where I need to be in my life right now.

In 2015, I explored my new home.

Looking back I don’t really remember much in March and April. I think it was all I could do to go to work and learn as much as I could everyday and curl up on the couch when I got home. But I’ve always dreamed of living here and eventually I began explore. I am fascinated by this place. So much history, so many unique people and there is always a dozen or so fun events going on here. I am continuing to slowly work my way through the tourist attractions (saving some for when I have visitors) and searching out some of the lesser known sights. I love visiting Arlington Cemetery, running on the Mall and saying Hi to Lincoln. I crossed off an item off of my bucket list and watched fireworks on the Mall and enjoyed the cherry blossoms in the spring. Anyone who would like to visit, let me know, I am honing my skills as a tour guide 🙂

In 2015, I had so many opportunities to travel.

My job took me back to Kansas, San Diego, Phoenix, Lake Tahoe and on my first big international trip to Guatemala.
I had the chance for a quick trip home and to the cabin over the summer, celebrated my sister’s 21st birthday in Las Vegas, my 25th birthday back in Kansas and witnessed my friend Blaine’s wedding. I spent Friendsgiving in North Carolina and Christmas at home again with my family.

At one point in the summer I went 8 weeks where I never spent more than 8 days in a row in D.C. This is the life friends. There is a lot of ugly that goes on in the world, but I still refuse to believe that it’s not beautiful.

In 2015, I really valued my time with my family and friends.

My grandparents are the true rockstars of the year. They cut their anniversary trip short to fly to Kansas to help me pack and then made the drive East with me. And I don’t know which was more horrible, the weather on the drive or my attitude. I put all of my stress and worry on them and all they did was love me back. I am still incredibly grateful for the help and support.

Even though I moved to the East coast I still got to spend quality time with people that I love and as I mentioned above, shared many celebrations together. I had a few visitors to my new home, including my best friend Richole from Oregon and my college friend Chelsea, who is now a fellow Virginian at Virginia Tech. And most importantly I am starting to build a life here and making new friends

In 2015, I did things that made me happy.

I became a resident of Virginia and began to embrace my new home.
I began a window garden again, and failed, AGAIN.
I continued to do some DIY projects and finished my very first crochet project.
I discovered the BEST semi-annual book sale at the local library and added so many new books to my own library.
I finally got a professional camera and am enjoying learning how to better use it and sharing those images with others.
I really dove into blogging, sharing my love for music, scrapbooking my life and felt so rewarded and motivated by my new “The Road I Traveled” series. And those are all just SOME of the highlights.

There is a lot that I am hopeful for in 2016.
I hope that I continue to grow, build my self confidence and be someone that I can be proud of.
I hope that I keep learning and become a better communicator and agriculturist. I hope to better serve others, both in my career and everyone who deserves the best from me. I hope to continue to have wanderlust and be brave enough to take risks. And most of all I am always hopeful for health and happiness, for myself and those I love.
There are a lot of things that we can be in this life, but I think just being simply happy, is the best there is.

I have lots of goals and adventures to be had, so 2016, I hope you are ready, because I am not slowing down.

And of course, my list of favorite music this year is long, but these four songs are what motivated me and spoke to my heart this year.

Cheers, and Happy New Years!

The Road I Traveled Series

The Road I Traveled: Meet Jancey

“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 new 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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I don’t know how to best begin this introduction. I always say that I would want to be besties with celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence, Anna Kendrick or Taylor Swift. These women just really seem to own who they are. They are sassy, talented, hysterical and whether its true or not, have us all convinced that what you see is what you really get. I’m saying all this because by the end of this blog post I’m pretty certain you will want to be besties with the gal I’m featuring today. Meet Jancey, she’s all of those things above, and more. She was one of the first friends I made my freshman year at K-State. You see, my little sister is also named Janci, and at a meet-and-greet for wanna-be future College of Ag Ambassadors I stood up in the middle of the crowd and yelled,”Whose name is Jancey?” I had decided that meeting this girl who shared my sister’s name would make me less homesick, and not only did she walk over and introduce herself (despite the weird look she was giving me) but she ended up becoming one of my best friends. I could write an endless blog post on all of our adventures in college and post grad when we both started our careers working for Kansas commodity groups, but that’s for another day.

I am excited for you to hear Jancey’s story. She has a huge heart for serving others and for the agriculture industry. She has a lot to share about highs and lows of being a young professional, and her post today is incredibly genuine. Did I also mention that she is seriously funny? I promise she’ll make you smile and laugh.
– Amanda

Meet Jancey

Basics

Name: Jancey Saunders Hall
Age: 25
Hometown: Neodesha, KS
College: Kansas State University
Degree(s): Agriculture Economics
Current Location: Manhattan, KS
Current Job: Program Manager at Kansas Soybean

Background Story
I was born in Dorothy’s hometown in Southwest Kansas, Liberal. My Mom is a teacher and my Dad was in the ag industry. I moved to Southeast Kansas when I was a wee tot. My Dad passed away from cancer, so my Mom was a B.A. single parent and raised 2 kids and a menagerie of animals including dogs, goose, tortoises, and more! I was involved in all the things growing up except anything involving fine arts. To graduate high school you had to have a fine arts credit and a language didn’t count (lame), so they put me in choir. Most days I had a pass from either of my ag advisers or our school counselor (the choir teachers wife) excusing me for being late.  They didn’t put a time on it and if they did they always put like 5 minutes after I left them so that I could take my time and talk with the art teacher on my way. I think my choir teacher was OK with this because in order for me to think I’m a good singer my car volume has to be at least a 57 on its max of 62. I’m a lover of books, mac and cheese, the color purple, corny jokes, smiling, Mexican food, roller blades, and the Oxford Comma.

(Note from Amanda: I do NOT believe in the Oxford comma, and I’m pretty sure Jancey added that just to see if I would go through and edit them all out… which I didn’t, even though it pained me not to.)

College

How did you choose your college and your major?
I’m a 4th generation Wildcat and I would’ve been a 5th if my great grandma would’ve been allowed by her dad to go to college (she wanted to!).  My Dad was on judging teams at K-State, my Mom  was on the volleyball team starting in its second year as a program, and my family is from Manhattan and owned the city dairy for years.  Purple is kind of in my blood and Manhattan has always been my second home.

I majored in Ag Economics aka ‘I don’t know what I want to do when I have to #adult and this has a lot of courses that can be applied to a lot of majors, but I’m never going to be able to make a decision to switch so in four years I’ll leave with an AgEcon degree.’

Probably not the recommended way to choose.

What were you involved in outside of class? Organizations? Internships?
I was an Ag Ambassador and I served as the College of Ag’s honor code representative (sitting on the panels who listen to cases involving honor code violations aka kind of scary/intense stuff.  Trust me, cheating is not worth it, EVER). The organization that had the biggest impact that I was involved in was Alpha of Clovia, a 4-H based cooperative living house of 62 girls.  We did all of our own cooking and cleaning.  Well, I didn’t cook because I love to lick spoons and don’t care about food safety things #ImmuneSystemOfSteelPerks, but I cleaned a lot of bathrooms…

jancey 1
My 25th Birthday

What one piece of advice would you give a student during their senior year?
Well, I definitely wouldn’t tell you ‘it’s fine’ to not be engaged/be in a serious committed relationship or that ‘it’s fine’ that you don’t have a full time job on graduation day and ‘you’ll figure it out… eventually.’  Those people deserve to be slapped. (Shout out to my Mom for teaching me that just because someone says something you don’t like, doesn’t mean you can slap them. Sorry about kicking you in the shins with my football cleats that one time in 5th grade.)

But here’s the thing. Even if they are the worst, those people are kind of right… Keep working hard, loving life, growing, and just being you. Everyone’s life path is different and although that tends to make me anxious, it’s a good thing.  In the past 2.5 years since I’ve graduated sometimes I’ve felt on top of the world  and blasted T-Swift on my commute home and danced like I wasn’t driving a major interstate at 83 mph. Sometimes I haven’t and I’ve blasted T-Swift and balled my eyes out on my commute home like I wasn’t driving a more conservative 81 mph on a major interstate. Life happens and I think God really just likes to laugh at our (well at least my) plans.  So I’m going to do my best, enjoy the ride, love fully, and make the world a better place while I’m here. It will turn out somehow and even if everything’s not alright (because life definitely isn’t perfect) you will make it through.  Look beside you at your support system and trust me, those people love you a whole lot.  Find your people and you’ll never be alone.

On an unrelated tangent… find a mentor at your school- a boss, professor, just someone you admire and trust and bother them a lot. Continuing bothering them after you graduate. Also, when you graduate find other people to bother. You’ll thank me later.

Post Grad

Tell us about your career so far?
I started as an intern and then I was hired full time.  I work for Kansas farmers, and MY farmers are the best (no they are not mine, but I’m possessive about things). I work on their behalf to do a conglomerate of things from talking to farmers at farm shows, showing 4th graders how soy touches their everyday lives, and more.  Soybeans are THE coolest crop and have many uses.  I could talk for hours about what all I get to do because soybeans are ‘da bomb.’

How have your experiences and involvement in college set you up for success in your career and life post grad?
My senior year of college I had some incredible bosses that expected a lot out of you, but let you figure out how to get it done, yet they were always there if you needed them. Combine that with my role that was juggling a lot of humans, many I had never met, with unexpected surprises of the good and bad variety popping up at any second and having as little as no seconds to figure out how to handle the situation. The skills and lessons I learned that year have taught me about having a solid plan, but being able to roll with the winds as they change if needed. So valuable not only in my career, but all things life.

jancey 3
The 2014 Real Pig Farming Tour included a stop at a soybean farm.

On the flip side, what are your biggest challenges or differences you’ve experienced post grad that you didn’t expect or didn’t feel prepared for?
I never realized how dependent I was on relational time with my gal pals to thrive. I mean, I lived with 62 girls and had friends in college outside of my house so even if I wanted to escape them I couldn’t.  Now, I work primarily with guys and they are great, but it’s not the same.  I’ve been able to develop some strong friendships and mentors with others in my industry and just realized how to better connect with those gals I used to see a million times a day, but now only see here and there.

What apps, technology, and resources do you use regularly to stay organized and do your job?
Oh my goodness gracious, I could go on for hours about my Emily Ley Simplified Planner. If you want me to elaborate, I can, but I’ll stop for now… I really hate always having a phone on me so I constantly battle my desire to be super techy and my desire to live in a log cabin in the back woods with no Wifi.

At this stage, what are a few of your strengths and weaknesses?
I love sending personal notes of the snail mail variety, because when I receive them it makes my heart sing and although I’m forever behind on birthday cards, I excel in going thru a lot of postage stamps. Legitimately, there is nothing as special as receiving a handwritten note, so why not send more? For November I’ve written a note every day to someone I’m thankful for as part of #Thankfulemeber (I just like making up words).  I’ve sent them to people I see every day, those I just see here and there or only on social media, and to those I haven’t seen in ages, but impacted my life in some way/shape/form. It’s actually been really random.  It’s kind of crazy how doing this every day has taught me to look at every human and ask myself ‘why am I grateful for their existence’ – it makes you love other humans more. It’s really nothing revolutionary, but it’s one thing I can do each day to make others smile- even if you do it just once a week, I know it’ll change your outlook. On the flip side, spelling/grammar and concise writing is not my strength.  I’m working on that and learning how to use spell check in excel.

How do you stay motivated when work gets really busy or difficult?
For me, it’s the opposite.  How do I stay motivated when work is slow and I have no pressing things coming at me? Things to work on.

Work-life balance?  How do you stay afloat and refreshed?
Realizing that even if I feel alone, I’m not.  Leaning on those gal pals that I have and telling them ‘yo, I need a heart to heart/I miss you and to cry and/or to dance and/or to eat cheese dip, can we make that happen soon’.

What in your #PostGradLife are you most proud of so far?
I’ve been able to work with some really awesome humans on developing programs to take those not directly involved in the ag industry yet interested/passionate about it (see also, they like to eat) and connecting them with farmers. Seeing light bulb moments when something clicks for them and how speaking with one of our farmers impacts their perspective is SO INCREDIBLY COOL. Also, having humans understand where their food comes from and how as we get more generations removed from the farm every day is vital. Foolishly, when we started these I just thought that we would be teaching them something, but the women (they don’t have to be female but they have been) have taught me so much on these programs and continue to inspire me long after they are over. I’m grateful for all they teach and inspire me to do/learn/see/grow.

What does life look like right now? Hobbies and interests? What outside of work are you passionate about?
I like to roller blade because it feels like you can fly. This one time a 5th grader actually told me it was lame and I told him he was a bully and then I listened to Shake it Off by T-Swift. I live with my Grandma who is basically snow white.  Seriously though, living with my gram is the best. I want to make a quilt and become a consistent crocheter.  I also really love hanging out with my Gram’s cronies and helping out the American Legion when they do different projects/programs.

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With my Gram and Mom

Just for Fun

How many alarms do you set in the morning?
17 – I really need to establish a firm bedtime/wake up time so this won’t be such a problem. I usually wake up on the 11th alarm. Sometimes it’s the 2nd and sometimes it’s the 16th.

Do you have a must-have vice like caffeine or item you can’t live without in your workplace?
I am constantly trying to get un-addicted to Dr. Pepper and Mt. Dew.

If you were to have another career, all limitations aside, what would it be?
An event and wedding planner and/or a teacher. Both of those have been major life considerations since I was 6 and dreaming about having my own classroom, imagining light bulbs clicking and making intense party schedules and to-do lists. My current job actually manages to combine some aspects of both of those jobs, which is strange in a good way.

Moment of truth, what do you really miss about college?
The sleeping porches, which meant 30-some girls in bunk beds in one giant room. They were freezing so I slept basically in a cocoon. We weren’t supposed to talk, but I always ended up on the obnoxious sleeping porch where that was kind of OK if you whispered. Pranks were played. To some it probably seems nightmarish but for me it was just the best.

(Note From Amanda: Fun fact… these sleeping porches were the ONLY reason I chose Smurthwaite Scholarship House over Clovia. To each their own.) 

What’s the best interaction with law enforcement have you had?
Well one time I was taking food to our tailgate and it was realllllly windy and the lid to my truck wouldn’t stay down with rope and so I had to rearrange the food (it was in warmers).  A state trooper ended up stopping and helping me. I tried to thank him with ribs and cookies.

What’s your #1 bucket list item?
To see all 50 states. I just visited Nebraska for my 25th state in my 25th year (yes it’s ridiculous that it’s an hour from me and I’ve never been there…). I really just love adventures.

What am I most proud of on this questionnaire?
That I didn’t substitute “so” with “soy” once.  For me, that’s kind of remarkable.

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Jancey, thank you so much for sharing a little piece of yourself in this post. The world is a better place because there are people like you in it. I can’t wait for you to visit me in January!

As always, thanks for reading friends!

Cheers.

So There's That Series

What’s Up Wednesday: October 2015

Oh hey, what’s up? This link up happens the last Wednesday of every month with the same list of questions and is hosted by The Larson Lingo, Mix & Match Family and Pinterest Told Me To.

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What I’m Eating This Month…

October is National Pasta Month and the 25th was World Pasta Day. In addition to some editorial and social media coverage at work, I organized two “Pasta Day” potluck lunches at my office. I made my Grammy’s stack salad and modified it to go better with a pasta base. Everyone in the office seemed to enjoy the lunches and there were so many yummy dishes!

world pasta 1 world pasta 2 

What I’m Reminiscing About…

Turning 25 is, as the hipsters say, “giving me all the feels.”
For the most part, everything in my life can be addressed with “How did I get here?”
Not funny? Hmm inside jokes are complicated.
Anyways, I thought this Buzzfeed article, 19 Signs You’re Finally Becoming An Adult, pretty much sums up life right now.

strange kind of grown up

What I’m Loving…
Kansas City Royals!!!! #TakeTheCrown
Trader Joe’s Almond Nut Butter
The wonderful reception and feedback I am getting on my new “The Road I Traveled Series”
My new discovery… dirty chai!!!
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15 Jokes Only Extreme ‘Gilmore Girls’ Fans Understand
Updates from two of my best girls who are both due with their first babies next spring!
This 3 year old who was devastated when she found out Adam Levine was married…
Fall colors, because #basic
My family’s loving dysfunctional group text messages
The “SWORKIT lite” phone app
And this meme… Holla!
big hair

What I’ve Been Up To…
 Each month that I live here seems to go by faster! This month I turned 25, and had a pretty low-key birthday weekend because the weekend before I took advantage of having Columbus Day off and made a quick trip back to Kansas for a K-State football game and to visit with friends.

It might be awhile before I make it back there again, so I crammed as much in as I possible could and left with a full heart.

What I’m Dreading…
My always long, and always random to-do list. That’s the problem with being an obsessive list maker. I also finally got around to applying for TSA pre-check (not in time for my next trip) and got my appointment scheduled.

And as ALWAYS, I’m dreading winter. 

What I’m Working On…
I finally finished my fall burlap wreath (L) for my new office at work (which I wrote about here) and then my co-worker loved it so much that he asked me to make another one (R) for his entry way at home. I was pretty happy with how they turned out!

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What I’m Excited About…
As much as I hate winter, it does mean the holidays. Ever since I left for college, my birthday has always roughly marked two months before I go home for the holidays and when I officially start my countdown — and that had remained the same in post grad. During those two months I tend to get homesick a bit more often than usual. So… today marks 50 days until home sweet home again!

What I’m Watching…
As I mentioned in last month’s “What’s Up Wednesday” post, I was watching Friends for the first time from start to finish on Netflix and had been avoiding the last few episodes of the series because I didn’t want it to end. Well, I finally accepted it and faced the end. I sent a SnapChat of the scene where Rachel is individually saying goodbye to each of the friends to my bestie Megan in Kansas because she just finished the series as well and the scene hit a little too close to home for me…aka I cried. Seriously, every 20-something needs the friends in their lives.

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As I’m writing this I am also mastering my multi-channel TV watching skills with the Republican debate, Game 2 of the World Series (GO ROYALS) and the Trailblazers NBA season opener.
I couldn’t decide on just one.

What I’m Reading…
I skipped out last month, but I’ll recap my September and August reading list next week during Molly and Katie’s Bookworm Wednesday link-up.

This week, I also enjoyed this blog post that has been floating around titled, “Screw Finding Your Passion.” It’s a little blunt and definitely has some unnecessary language, but it really breaks down a topic that I have talked in circles about with different people and gives it a refreshing (minus the language) message that really resonated with me.

What I’m Listening To…

I haven’t posted a Friday Jam Session in a few weeks. I just haven’t been all that motivated to work on them throughout the week and when I would get to Thursday, they just didn’t happen at all. But my lists and comments are getting a bit long, so I’ll definitely be back at it this week.
In the meantime, like the rest of the world, I can’t stop listening to Adele’s new single “Hello”

And I’m loving this stripped down version “Out of the Woods” from T-Swift. I think I like it better than the original.

What I’m Wearing…

Like always, I never remember to take pictures of the (very) few outfits that I deem shareable. I did throw on my new blanket scarf this morning that I AM OBSESSED with. I mentioned last month that I spent all of last winter not being able to decide what print  and colors I wanted so I never got one. Back in August, I decided that it was a must-have item this season and finally chose this one. It is so warm and soft, and mixes and matches well with quite a bit of my wardrobe. I wore it once over dress as a shawl with a thin belt over the top… and the jury is still out on that style. But I am completely convinced that everyone needs a blanket scarf in their life.

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What I’m Doing This Weekend…
Watching the World Series and packing for my next work trip…

What I’m Looking Forward to Next Month…
 Early next week I head out to Lake Tahoe for a fall board meeting for my job. Since my Spoo grandparents live nearby, they are going to pick me up from the airport and spend the rest of the day with me. I haven’t seen them in over 3 years, so I’m REALLY excited!

And of course, Thanksgiving!! This year I’m headed down to Raleigh, NC for a little Friendsgiving action with some fellow Oregonian/K-State/East Coast transplants.

This Month’s Bonus Question: What’s your favorite Thanksgiving recipe…

Ugh. Talking holiday food traditions makes me homesick.
Dad’s tri-tip and pork loin. Grammy’s mashed potatoes. Cousin Lisa’s pretzel salad. The Jorgensen family’s sweet rolls and more… Good thing all of those things are usually at the Christmas dinner table as well.

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Well, that’s what’s up this Wednesday!
Cheers!

Friendship, Kansas

Long Weekend in Kansas

This past weekend I flew to Kansas for a long, fun-filled weekend.
If I’m being honest, after having K-State season football tickets for 6 years, I just couldn’t imagine NOT going to a game at all. So when I discovered I had Columbus Day off (Thank you Christopher!) and found reasonably priced airline tickets, I decided to make a visit to my second home.

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Megan.

I’m actually surprised that I haven’t been as tired this past week because I really couldn’t have fit more in a little more than 72 hours. I flew in late to Wichita on Friday night and was picked up by my bestie/college roommate Megan. We got up early and road tripped to Manhattan on Saturday, and spent the morning hanging out with Leah and having lunch and coffee at my favorite study place, Bluestem.

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Megan and Leah.

The afternoon was filled with tailgating and catching up with lots of friends. All of my main group of friends in college have gone a lot of different directions, but almost all of us were in town. It is so refreshing to be reminded of the value of those friendships and memories, but equally exciting to see how well everyone is doing now.

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Brandi.

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The game itself was crazy. I was prepared for disappointment, and while the ending was indeed just that, the Cats reminded everyone to never disregard them too quickly. Regardless of the ending, I was still so excited to be back in one of my favorite places on earth. And on such a beautiful day! Seriously, fall sunsets in Kansas are simply gorgeous.

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The family.

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My view from inside Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
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The game with Cary and Nathan.

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On Sunday I went to breakfast with a few more friends and then Megan and I headed out to Ellinwood, KS to visit our other bestie/roommate, Kyla. While her husband Nathan had been able to make it to Manhattan for the game, she had to stay behind for a school function (she’s a music teacher.) Overall, we traveled over 380 miles that weekend, but nothing was stopping me from including Kyla in my visit. We eventually realized that it was almost a year (a week later) than Megan and I had made similar trip out to see Kyla for my birthday.

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Megan and Kyla.

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We returned to Wichita that evening, and spent Monday relaxing and setting up some things in Megan’s new duplex before my flight left in the late afternoon.

Sometimes surrounding yourself with your favorite people, places and things is just good for the soul. Thanks to everyone for such a great weekend!

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Megan’s pup Luna.

 Cheers!

Friendship, Kansas

Throwback: Two Weddings and…Two Weeks

With wedding season officially in full swing I couldn’t help but reminisce about last year’s season. On this very day last year I was on my way down to Southeast Kansas to kick off two of my busiest weeks, ever! I was honored to stand by two of my best friends, Kyla and Leah in their weddings…which happened to be on back-to-back weekends. It’s kind of hard to imagine that was all a year ago now!

Since I wasn’t regularly blogging at the time, I figured why not do a little throwback!

I said those two weeks were busy, but if I’m being honest, it was the entire first half of 2014. My Pinterest account got daily attention and together my friend Megan and I became bridal shower and bachelorette party hosting pro’s.  There were dress fittings, accessories to keep track of and 10 different hairstyles to plan, practice for and do. For Leah’s wedding there was an invitation to design and +10,000 songs on my iTunes to sort down to one playlist; while for Kyla’s there was an {awesome} speech to write and flowers for my mom and I to put together.

I say all of this not to gripe, but because I want to remember every bit of it.
Yes it was busy, but it was also such a special couple of months.
Both of these girls had been my roommates through college. We finished our growing up together; laughing, crying and supporting each other through accomplishments, mistakes, challenges, change and milestones. They are both so unique, and inspire me with their strength, friendship and compassion. I witnessed both of their love stories and was so happy to share in this part of their lives.

I teased these girls (who are both great friends with each other) for the circles they had me turning in, but I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. There are so many little anecdotes, jokes and memories, that I have with them and the great group of friends we have, that shared in it all. And in a lot of ways, since the last of us had also just graduated, it was the end of an era.

To Nathan and Kyla, and Leah and Ryan,
Wishing you both a Happy First Anniversary!
Love you!

Friendship, Kansas

Home is Where the Heart Is

I’ve been somewhat lazy this week when it came to writing about my recent trip to Kansas, but I was struggling with coming up with something to say other than that it was fabulous and then recounting all of the details.

I mean it was fabulous. The weekends/vacation time was stuffed full with my favorite foods, places, activities and people. And my work days on wheat tour were fruitful. I was able to take what I already knew from my K-State days working for the grain science department and learn so much more about wheat as a crop, and now have a very hands-on experience to reference back to. And even though I lived in Kansas for six years, it was great to travel and see the state in that way. I’m not sure I’ll ever get over those wide open spaces. If you are interested in learning a bit more about what exactly “wheat tour” is then you can read my summary here http://bit.ly/1JudR6Q (scroll to the second story) or join all of the cool kids and look back at the action on Twitter by searching the hashtag #wheattour15.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures I took on the tour. You can see more here: on.fb.me/1cx9b5P

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It was a very surreal experience being back in Kansas after moving away two months ago. During those two months in DC it seemed as if my life back in Kansas was years and years ago, but when I landed back in Manhattan it felt like I had never left, as if I had just driven to Wichita or KC for the weekend.

I think I struggled earlier this week with what to say about the trip, because I was still processing it all. But now that I’ve unpacked my bags and settled back in at work, there are a few things that my trip back to Kansas showed me.

I really am one of the lucky ones. The years I spent in Kansas were so full of all the things that we deserve to have in life, and revisiting some of those memories was a true testament to that. And the people…my people, man I’ll just say this, they are pretty darn great. But being there, especially on wheat tour, also reminded me why I left. I wanted to do more for agriculture and I wanted to do more for myself. I know now that I would have been selling myself, my past experiences and my passion for agriculture short if I had decided to not step it up and take on the next challenge.

Unfortunately for my family back in Oregon, this trip also confirmed something that has been on my mind for a while. I’m not really big on making too many assumptions about long term plans or where I see myself in “XX amount of years,” but when that time comes someday, Kansas wouldn’t be such a bad place to land back in. Oregon, you and my mountains better step up the campaign game NOW.

It was great to see you Kansas, I’ll be back soon!

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With Megan at the Bogner Wedding!
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Pretty bummed that I won’t be cheering on the ‘Cats here this fall. But I definitely had to check out the new construction during my morning run!
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Soul Sistas….and Luna, who I guess can join the club.

 

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Hanging out with this guy is always a crazy time.

 

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The main four. I’m so glad that Nathan and Kyla were able to join us in Wichita.
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Kyle and Mega. Or essentially…TROUBLE.
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Enjoyed my first weekend with Leah, who helped me indulge in all of my Manhattan favorites. It was also good to see Ryan, Brandi, Jancey, Logan and the IGP team in the Hat!
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The Bogner wedding was fabulous, right down to the purple cotton candy martini’s. We were big fans.
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This guy is just about as good as they come. I am so thankful that my work trip allowed me to be back in Kansas to help celebrate his wedding!
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At the wedding I overheard Emily telling someone…”If it’s going to rain on a wedding, it might as well be on a farmer’s wedding.” Blaine-o you definitely married the right girl!
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Mr. Kellan belongs to my old roommates Cam and Audrianna, who are the first of my close college friends to have kids. This little guy is always so happy and I’m so thankful I could set aside time to sneak in a few Auntie Amanda snuggles.