The Road I Traveled Series

The Road I Traveled: Meet Caroline

“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 have so been looking forward to sharing this feature with you ever since I heard back from the guest! Caroline is shaking the series up a bit by sharing her story via YouTube! I always tell my guests that I want this feature to reflect their story in the best way possible, so I was excited when she suggested a video. Personally for me, video is something I have yet to venture into on my blog, but I am definitely curious!

I met Caroline early on in college through our participation in Agriculture Future of America (AFA) Leaders Conference, and then got to know her a bit better overtime as we both eventually served on the organization’s national student advisory team (not the same year). Caroline’s journey is inspiring. A few months after I moved to DC in 2015, Caroline called me up because she was a crossroads with what the next step was in her life and career. I was honored that she reached out to me for that kind of advice. I vividly remember her sharing so passionately about these ideas and goals she had, about her values and faith and the challenges she was facing. Fast forward to 2017, and I am so excited to see her living out (and crushing) those ideas and goals, and more importantly, so happy and positive about the road she’s on. It’s contagious.

What has always stood out to me since I first met Caroline, was how friendly she is and how gracefully she wears her confidence, and I think you’ll see that in her video. Caroline is also a regular blogger, so if you read or hear something in her story that interests you, I would encourage you to check out her blog at https://strongsweetcaroline.com/. 

-Amanda 

Basics

Name: Caroline Weihl
Age: 25 YEARS YOUNG!
Hometown: Perrysburg, Ohio
College: The Ohio State University
Degree(s): May 2014 Agricultural Communication, minor Agribusiness
Current Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Current Job: Entrepreneur – starting a meal prep company

College

How did you choose your college and your major?
I grew up on a row crop and beef cattle farm and always enjoyed sharing an agriculture story. I was a good writer so it made sense to study agricultural communication. I was fortune to receive a scholarship from The Ohio State University and made the decision simple. I wanted to make the most of the opportunity in front of me.

What were you involved with outside of class? Organizations? Internships?
AFA, Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow, Alpha Xi Delta Fraternity and many other student orgs through college. I interned with Trupointe Cooperative (now Sunrise Cooperative), Ohio State Livestock Judging Team, Bader Rutter, and freelanced for the Ohio FFA Association.

What were your biggest challenges or obstacles in college?
Anything you would change? Learning to say “no” to the unimportant and make time for priorities.

What one piece of advice would you give a student during their senior year?
Make the most to explore new things you want to learn, people you want to build relationships and network with and discover as much about yourself as possible.

Post Grad

Tell us about your career so far?
I worked three years with Syngenta in corporate seed sales. I left in August 2017 to start a meal prep company in Atlanta, Georgia. Watch video for more details.

How have your experiences and involvement in college set you up for success in your career and life post grad?
Helped me identify my deeper purpose and talents.

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?
Focusing on small steps, one day at a time.

What apps, technology and resources do you use regularly to stay organized and do your job?
Evernote and podcasts!

At this stage, what are a few of your strengths and weaknesses?
Strengths: confidence, vision, drive, compassion. Weaknesses: impatience and multi-tasking.

How do you stay motivated when work gets really busy or difficult?
YouTube, gratitude, self reflection, vision board.

Work-life balance? How do you stay afloat and refreshed?
It’s not work-life balance. It’s lifestyle.

What in your #PostGradLife are you most proud of so far?
Having the courage to do something most won’t: stepping out of a “comfort zone” to pursue new challenges.

What does life look like right now? Hobbies and interests? What outside of work are you passionate about?
Very busy but towards things I want!

What path are you looking to take next? Any long-term goals?
Start my company and continue to build it from there.

Just for Fun

What is essential to your morning routine to start the day off right?
Meditation and 16oz of water right when waking up.

Do you have a must-have vice like caffeine or item you can’t live without in your workspace?
Music.

If you were to have another career, all limitations aside, what would it be?
This one, but with other businesses started and going in the travel and clothing industries.

Moment of truth, what do you really miss about college?
Close friends and networks.

*****

Caroline, I know you are hustling at life right now, so I want you to know how much I appreciate you taking the time to share your story on my blog! 

Want to follow Caroline more? You can find her on Instagram: @strongsweetcaroline and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/strongsweetcaroline/

Cheers!

The Road I Traveled Series

The Road I Traveled: Meet Alison

“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 am excited to share today’s guest because this feature offers something new to the series. Alison is my first guest that is a stay at home mom and small business owner. One of the original reasons why I first began this series was because there are so many different paths that young adults can be on that it sometimes makes it hard for us to learn from, respect and relate from each other. I wanted to create a space that simply celebrates the “hustle”, highlights different opportunities and maybe encourages others to think “hey, maybe I am doing alright.”

I have known Alison for most of my life. We both grew up in Hermiston, OR, and I’d say we really became friends in high school when we were both involved in FFA. What has always stood out to me about Alison was her kindness, creatvity and work ethic. Even as kids, I remember always enjoying working on things with her and I always knew she was someone you could depend on. If you know Alison, then you know that she is grounded by the importance of family, and that hers also happen to be some of the nicest people you could know. (I have so many fun memories from hanging out at Hawman Farms!) I think it is really cool to see Alison start her own (adorable) family and business, and thrive at both. I hope you enjoy hearing her story!

-Amanda 

Name: Alison Green
Age: 27
Hometown: Hermiston, OR
College: Eastern Oregon University
Degree(s): Multidisciplinary Studies (Elementary Education)
Current Location: Meridian, ID
Current Job: Stay at Home Mom & LuLaRoe Fashion Consultant

Background Story
I was born and raised in Hermiston, OR. I grew up in the country on my family’s farm and spent my summers working on the farm. I come from large family which I love; we always seem to have a good time.  When it was time to leave home and go off to college I chose to attend Eastern Oregon University in LaGrande, OR. It was at college where I met my husband, Chad. Chad and I dated all through college and got married once I graduated. Once I married Chad, I moved to Meridian, ID where he had already established his career. We have now been married for 6 years and have two beautiful daughters with one more on the way in just 3 short weeks!

College

How did you choose your college and your major?
I had known I wanted to be a teacher since I was in the 2nd grade. I love working with young children and spent many afternoons as a young girl playing “school” with my sisters at home. As soon as I was old enough, in high school, I began going to the elementary schools as part of the juvenile tutoring program to get as much experience as possible.

When it came time to choose a college I knew I wanted to stay close to home. I have always been one to get home sick so being a short drive away was going to suit me best. I ended up choosing Eastern Oregon University in LaGrande, OR. I knew they had two great teaching programs and I loved the small university atmosphere.

I graduated from Eastern with a Bachelor’s degree in Multidisciplinary Studies with minors in both Elementary Education as well as English as a Second Language (ESOL).

What were you involved with outside of class? Organizations? Internships?
Outside of class, I was involved in the Education Club at the university. I also spent many hours in elementary classrooms, getting a feel for all grade levels. In addition I spent summers helping in different summer school programs.

What were your biggest challenges or obstacles in college? Anything you would change?
I ended up graduating from college in three years. I would never change that but it did bring up some challenges as far as scheduling went and the time/quarters classes were offered. But in the end it all worked out.

What one piece of advice would you give a student during their senior year?
The piece of advice I would give to a student during their senior year is to enjoy it but also look to the future. It is your senior year, you need to make sure you have fun and enjoy every part of it. At the same time you need to start planning for your future. Make sure your resume is up to date, start applying for jobs/internships in the area you are looking to be at and make sure you have everything in place for graduation.

Post Grad

Tell us about your career so far?
My first year after graduating I did not get a teaching job like I had hoped for, I had numerous interviews but since I had moved to a new state not everything fell into place at the right times. I spent that year transferring my Oregon teaching license to an Idaho teaching license and substituting. Now looking back, I realize how much my year of substituting helped me grow. It allowed me to not only get familiar with the new city I had moved to but I was also able to familiarize myself what Idaho’s standards and curriculum.

After my year of substitute teaching I was fortunate enough to get a full time teaching job teaching kindergarten. Kindergarten was my number one choice so I was ecstatic! I taught kindergarten for three years and loved it.

During those three years, I ended up having two daughters. Once my second daughter was born, I knew where my time needed to be spent and that was at home with my two girls. Luckily, my husband and I were able to make this happen. I have always dreamed of being a stay a home mom and I could not imagine being anywhere else than at home with my girls.

I love spending my days at home with my girls, but after a year of being at home I felt this need to do something for me and to do something where I felt I was contributing financially for our family. This is how LuLaRoe came into my life. After falling in love with their clothing, I decided to look more into the business side of LuLaRoe. I took a leap and a year ago signed up to be an Independent Fashion Consultant for LuLaRoe. Becoming an independent fashion consultant is exactly what I needed. It allows to me to be a stay at home mom while working my business. I am able to create my own hours, determine how much or how little I want to work each week and I am able to involve my girls in my business. I truly enjoy staying home with my girls while working my business at the same time.

How have your experiences and involvement in college set you up for success in your career and life post grad?
Everything I did in college definitely prepared me for my teaching career. I felt so prepared and ready for my first teaching job. But not only did my college experiences prepare me for that, it also has helped me in my “post-teaching life.”  While staying at home with my girls I am able to bring my teaching experience home to begin their schooling early. We do school every day at home so they are prepared and ready for preschool.

As far as my LuLaRoe business goes, the major thing that has set me up for success is organization skills. You have to be organized to run any business and I have found this to be true, plus some, when running a business as well as running a house hold.

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?
In college, my classes were definitely geared towards education, especially elementary education. When starting my own business I felt a little lost on the business side of things just because I don’t really have experience in the business world. I wish I maybe would have taken a business course or two in college. But lucky for me, I married a financial analyst who is very good with numbers and business side of things.

What apps, technology and resources do you use regularly to stay organized and do your job?

A good portion of my LuLaRoe business is mainly online. I really take advantage of free advertisement through Facebook and Instagram. Facebook is also where I run my Online Boutique. Some other apps I use for my business include; WordSwag, PhotoGrid and MileIQ.

At this stage, what are a few of your strengths and weaknesses?
At this stage in my life, some of my strengths include; being organized and prepared. This works for both my business and family side of life.

One of my weaknesses is definitely being a worrier. I worry about everything and most of the time, over analyze everything.

How do you stay motivated when work gets really busy or difficult?
Being that I work from home and provide a secondary income for our family, when my business gets busy or difficult I just look at my girls and know that I am doing this for them. This extra income for our family helps us go on those fun family vacations, allows my girls to do all the activities they want to do and eventually will help them through college. My girls are definitely my reason why I do what I do.

Work-life balance? How do you stay afloat and refreshed?
Having a work-life balance is very important to me. My number one priority is my family and making sure they are taken care of and have what they need, that includes up keeping the house and the house hold chores. What works for me is scheduling, to know what I am going to do and when I am going to do it, for both my business and family. I have also learned that it is okay to take breaks every now and then, that’s what you need to stay refreshed.

What in your #PostGradLife are you most proud of so far?
What I am most proud of so far in my post grad life is definitely my family.  I have the best husband and two little girls and we are so excited for our third to be here soon!

What does life look like right now? Hobbies and interests? What outside of work are you passionate about?
Life right now is definitely busy but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I love what I do and who I am doing it for. Some of my hobbies I enjoy include; cooking, baking and crafting with my girls. I also love to go shopping! And when you’re a mom shopping without little helpers is always a treat!

What path are you looking to take next? Any long-term goals?
Business wise, some of my long-term goals include growing my online boutique shopping group so I am able to reach more customers and bring them fabulous clothing! I also want to step out of my comfort zone and try new business techniques that I will help grow my business and increase sales.

Family wise, some goals include adjusting to life with three kids and finding a routine that will work for all of us. I want to stay active and involved in all aspects of my girls activities; here at home, at school and in their extracurricular activities.

Just For Fun

What is essential to your morning routine to start the day off right?
I am surprisingly not a coffee drinker but what is essential for me to start my day off right is to be up and get ready before my girls are up. That way when they do get up, I am all theirs.

Do you have a must-have vice like caffeine or item you can’t live without in your workspace?
When not pregnant, I love to have Diet Coke, definitely my caffeine of choice! Another must have is snacks for my girls, when they are happy and in good moods so am I!

If you were to have another career, all limitations aside, what would it be?
Although it is not a completely different career, I would choose to be a Preschool teacher. I absolutely love little children and watching grow and develop those new skills. In preschool kids are still so excited for school and their love for learning really shows.

Moment of truth, what do you really miss about college?
What I miss most about college is my roommate. We become such good friends and had the best time doing everything together. We still remain very close friends today but it’s just not the same when you live in two different states and not in the same apartment.

*****

Interested in checking out Alison’s online LulaRoe boutique? You can find her Facebook group page HERE.

Alison, thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this blog series! And congrats to your almost family of 5! I always enjoy seeing your girls’ little personalities and growth when you share on Facebook. They are so much fun!

p.s. Look at us back in high school! Just babies ourselves!

Cheers!

The Road I Traveled Series

The Road I Traveled: Series Renewed

Almost two years ago now, when I was on one of my blogging highs (aka super motivated to blog a lot), I started a series called “The Road I Traveled.” I was about six months into a new job and moving halfway across the country (again) and I felt that I needed a bit more motivation as a young professional. I kept thinking, surely other people are experiencing these ups and downs of being a post grad! Surely others feel the back and forth tug between having no idea how to navigate being adult to feeling good about not having to call your mom for the third time that week.

What I found the most encouraging was when I would be chatting with friends who exclaimed “me too!” Not that I felt good that others were struggling too, but it was helpful to know that a lot of those ups and downs were completely normal.

The more I chatted with others about this topic, the more I also heard about the struggle of not having other young professionals/20-somethings to relate to. There are so many different paths to set out on after high school whether its college, trade school or straight into the work force. Then the path splits again into more school, starting families, making big moves and starting careers (or realizing that you want something totally different than what you studied for.) We are always questioning what the right decision is, and unfortunately that often leads us to comparing ourselves to others who are often on a totally different path

So I started “The Road I Traveled” series with the hope of offering a bit more real-life, relatable motivation. In each post I highlighted different young professionals, and let them share how they got to where they are, their ups and downs, and how they are striving to make it through this phase of life.

I received way more positive feedback that I could have ever anticipated, and when I had to slow down my blogging schedule a few months later, I was disappointed that I let this series slip.

Well, its coming back.

Because after two years, sure I’ve figured some things out. But for everything I’ve learned and accomplished, I have 5 more questions and hills to climb.

So I hope that this series once again serves its purpose and that each reader can find a little something in what they read that makes them exclaim, “me too!”

As always, I am going to try to plan ahead for future guests so that this series can be featured regularly, but with that said, if you are interested in being featured and I haven’t asked yet, don’t be shy, Let me know!

Stay tuned for the first new guest on Thursday!

If you are new to this series, click here for a list of all of the guests featured previously!

Cheers!

P.S. I still call my mom multiple times a week.

Thoughts and Lessons Learned

Staying Present

Sometime last year, my best friend Megan told me about a daily inspirational text service called “Shine Text” that she subscribed to for free. Essentially everyday at whatever time you designate, you get a text with a short motivational message that focuses on one of the focus-areas that you indicated you were interested in when you signed up. It also usually includes a fun image/meme and links to articles and videos that further discuss the topic and provide action steps and advice.

Is it sort of cheesy? Definitely. But I do believe in the power of positive thinking, and with so many negative distractions that most of us have to overcome or try to ignore from day to day, trying to make a habit of reading my Shine Text each day is a goal that really has improved my attitude and mood.

Last month I received the image above and this message below, that has REALLY stuck with me lately:

“Our minds are expert time-travelers; bypassing the present to harp on the past or future 47% of the time… We get so caught up in the shams and delusions of the mind that we miss reality – what is happening now and here.”

The concept on focusing on what’s right in front of us and not dwelling on the past or anticipating what is to come too much, is not new. But lately it is something that I have struggled with a bit, so this Shine Text was perfectly timed.

I’ve always struggled with having too-specific expectations for things to come, and then have to deal with being very disappointed when it doesn’t turn out the way I thought it would. So regardless if the present is still good and positive, I sometimes miss out on appreciating those moments because I am stuck being upset about how it didn’t turn out instead. Another thing is that often, while I am counting down to something that I am looking forward too, I will measure the time based on all of the things both at home and work that have to be done in the meantime. This affects my attitude toward my “present” and belittles other day-to-day moments that deserve their own spotlight. Not that its bad to be excited for something in the future, but this is definitely different then setting a goal or even daydreaming about what we hope for.

I think these are easy patterns to fall into that are sometimes harder to identify. The Shine Text also shared this article, “3 Simple Steps to Stop Mental Time Traveling,” which didn’t necessarily present any groundbreaking advice, but instead broke down the challenge in a practical way that is a great reminder for how to approach each day.

I am a very observant and intuitive person. I know that those are two of my strengths, so I know that I am at my best when I shift my attention to the present moment, whatever that might be.

Being present makes me better appreciate what I have, rather than dwell on what I think I might want. It encourages me to get to the gym and say yes to spontaneous girl’s day trips. It helps me be more intentional with my conversations and commitments, and how I invest in “my people.” It makes me less anxious about what is ahead and better able to go with the flow. And it makes me notice the little moments like a stranger letting me use the last washer in the community laundry room, a new favorite jam or a flirty wink from my boyfriend.

Being present is better.

How do you focus on being more present?

And because this was a more word heavy post, here’s a jam that I have had on repeat lately. This is the slower version, but the upbeat version is great too!

Cheers!

 

So There's That Series

So There’s That Vol. 21

{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 glam #postgradlife. See past posts HERE}

1. Baby Ego

Most people who know me personally have heard me refer to Josh “my uncle who is more like a brother since he’s only a few years older than me” (which is usually my go-to line). So anyway because of this my sister and I do not have any first cousins on that side of the family.

Well after 23 years WE ARE FINALLY GETTING A COUSIN!

Don’t get me wrong, we obviously enjoyed growing up with our grandparents all to ourselves, especially since we have a family flower shop and we grew up just down the street from them, but its safe to say that Janci, me and the rest of the Ego/Spoo clan are pretty darn excited.

Baby Girl Ego is due mid-July and even though I wasn’t able to be home for any festivities, my family made sure I was included via FaceTime and SnapChat.

2. Speaking of Babies…

My best friend Richole is also expecting at the end of 2017. She shared the news with me a few weeks ago before she made it public but the excitement was a bit delayed because apparently I was a bit distracted that day…. click the image below to see our funny conversation.

3. Face App

My sister texted Josh and me about this new app that allows you to take your picture and then adjust it to be a girl, boy, old, young, etc. When she tried the boy version she thought she looked a lot like Josh, which she does…. but not as much as me. Regardless, its pretty funny and it shows that we are definitely related!

Janci as a boy, compared to Josh.

Me as a boy, compared to Josh.


Me and Josh, as “normal” as we can be.

4. Ellie

A few weeks ago I wrote a little tribute for our family pup, Ellie, who passed away. She was the sweetest dog I’ve ever met and I am sure going to miss her when I am home next.

5. Turnpike Troubadours

This concert definitely made me miss the Midwest and Manhattan, where there is at least one (or more) red dirt concerts in town every weekend! Surprisingly though, this was my first time seeing Turnpike Troubadours ever! A group of Kansas kids and other friends caught this concert at the Fillmore which wasn’t my favorite venue in the area, but it wasn’t too bad at all.

6. Girls Night 

Thankful for these bible study small group girls who’ve turned into friends….and thoroughly enjoy margaritas and dancing as much as I do.


7. Snapchat Voice Changer

I am well aware that most people probably don’t find the SnapChat voice changers as funny as I do…. and that’s just too bad, because I think they are hilarious.

So when I having a ridiculous time trying to navigate the ONE MILE between work and home because of a ONE BLOCK DETOUR, I figured the occasion deserved to obnoxiously documented.

8. Out and About

A few snippets (and Snapchats) of life lately.

Had a great time visiting my friend Chelsea in Blacksburg for the Virginia Tech spring game a few weeks ago… so much that this was the only picture that I took the entire weekend!

I was actually surprised how much I enjoyed this from Trader Joe’s, considering it was an impulse buy while I was waiting in line.

Virtual meeting with Kansas agriculture commodity and university folks means chatting up with all of your friends and mentors.

Another week, another bouquet of flowers from Trader Joe’s.

…so a 10 minute drive home turned into 45 because of traffic.

9. 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!

Year in Review

{2016} My Year in Review

Over lunch earlier this week, I had intended to throw together a different blog post, but discovered that somehow I had written my 2016 year in review post and then completely FORGOT to publish live. So here I am (on a plane to Thailand!!!) tweaking my introduction because posting it a MONTH LATE probably is going to get me some eye rolls.

Some people might say that is reflective of how 2016 went, but I do not necessarily share that sentiment. Believe me — there some parts of 2016 that just flat out sucked, but there is no way I can look through this post and label 2016 negatively.

IMG_4204

Early in 2016, I stumbled across the image and words above while scrolling through Instagram. It struck me as an odd phrase, but I somewhat absentmindedly took a screenshot and saved it to my phone.

“…stay in your magic?”

What does that mean?

It is easy to be caught up in the world around us. The way we spend our time and who spend with it obviously have a huge influence on our decisions and beliefs, and for the most part I think it is a positive thing to constantly be challenged. However, I think what the above phrase is saying, is that “your magic” is our core. It is our quirks that override trying to fit in, beliefs that cannot be swayed by other’s reasoning, thoughts we keep to ourselves, a sense of home and being grounded. My life continues to be filled with rewarding challenges, great adventures and even greater people, but as I navigated through 2016, these words came back to me again and again. They made me slow down and steady myself a bit more than the stubborn, quicker pace that I usually move at. I would like to think that it has made me strive to be a better person and to better appreciate what makes others unique.

It certainly was an interesting year, and I am glad I got to tag along for the ride.

In 2016, I traveled, because, you know sitting around at home really is for suckers.

I know I said this at a dozen times throughout 2016, but really, I AM SO LUCKY, that I have a job that allows me to travel, both for work and for fun. There were only two months out of the year (February and August) that I did not leave DC at all. Many of those were shorter weekend trips but when you lay it out like that it really adds up! Much like the previous year, my summer in DC sped by because over the course of six weeks I only was there for 10 days.

I traveled home to Oregon THREE TIMES! I don’t think I have technically done that EVER since I moved out for college eight years ago. In January (shortly after I had been home for Christmas), work took me to Portland for a few days and I was able to sneak home for the weekend to celebrate my best friend’s baby shower. In July, I was back for over a week to spend some quality time at my family’s cabin and to celebrate my Uncle’s Josh wedding. Then in December, I returned for a long holiday vacation and enjoyed my parent’s new house and farm.

Work took me back to my beloved Kansas in May where I was sidestepping tornadoes, sharing wheat quality with overseas customers and squeezing in as much time with friends as I could. In July work also took me to Fargo, ND (a new state for me!) for a board meeting, and to St. Louis, MO, for the annual Ag Media Summit. The big surprise from work came from the late decision to have me tag along on a conference that my organization was hosted in Guam in October!

My weekend trips included two trips to Blacksburg, VA, in April and September, to visit my friend Chelsea and watch some VTech football (aka relive my college tailgating days), a day trip to Morgantown, WV, in September, to watch K-State football play WVU and a quick trip over to Baltimore in June, when another K-State friend was passing through. Two of my favorite weekends were spent on an epic girls weekend to NYC with my best friend Megan in April, and returning to Kansas City in November, for the AFA Leaders Conference and Alliance Forum, and to celebrate the 20th anniversary of an organization that I love dearly.

In 2016, I grew a lot at work and continued to love the industry and people that I work.

I celebrated my one year anniversary and took on more responsibilities. Everyday I learned more and more about the wheat industry, took on new challenges and even survived a few growing pains. It also became more apparent how lucky I am to have a boss and co-workers that support me both personally and professionally. They are a team who genuinely love the work that they do, and I have found that when challenges arise, I am very grateful for their attitudes and guidance.

In 2016, I celebrated new life and became a new surrogate Auntie to two adorable babies.

A year or two ago I think it would be safe to say that this season of change was a bit overwhelming, but in 2016 I fully embraced it. Two of my best friends became mamas and I was overjoyed to see them start their families and am honored that even though I live far away, they want me in their baby’s lives as much as possible. Richole and Dustin welcomed Wesley Ray on Mar. 4, and Leah and Ryan welcomed Robin Michele on Apr. 4. (Thank goodness that is going to be easy to remember!) My work and personal travel allowed me to visit both of them twice, and I got in all of the baby snuggles that I could.

In 2016, I had more new visitors to DC.

After spending my first year and half with a roommate, I decided I wanted to go back to living on my own. Of course the timing of it had to be difficult with a week-long work trip and a few big project deadlines all right before the start and end of my leases. So my wonderful Mom made a last minute trip to visit and help with the move. I honestly couldn’t have done it without her! We also managed to fit in just a little bit of “fun,” including walking and sitting in the pouring rain because we were determined to see the Memorial Day concert of the U.S. Capitol West Lawn.

One of my biggest highlights of the year was having my best friends and college roommates visit DC. Megan and Kyla, and Kyla’s husband Nathan (a veteran when it comes to dealing with the three of us girls together on his own), have practically been planning for this trip since I first moved to DC. I had a blast sharing my new home with these guys and we definitely made the most of it!

In 2016, I really branched out and made new friends.

It is no secret that I am pretty outgoing, but in spite of that, I have always taken a bit longer to make friends. It is something that used to bother me quite a bit, but overtime I have learned to be better at embracing that it is a part of what makes me, well me. As DC started to really feel like a home, 2016 became all about putting myself out there a bit more and making new friends.

In 2016, a lot of the small moments, stand out as big ones…

I survived #WinterStormJonas, 2 feet of snow and a city completely shutting down.
I gained an aunt (but really a sister) in Sonia.
I celebrated turning 26, and am a-okay will being closer to 30 than 21.
I cheered on my Wildcats on lazy fall Saturday watch parties.
I became a Lifetime Member of the AFA Alliance.
I went on my first East Coast hike, and know that it will not be my last.
I was thankful for technology so I could watch my sister graduate college even though I couldn’t be there in person.

I enjoyed doing things I love by decorating my new apartment, a few crafts and a few live concerts.
I developed plantar fasciitis in my foot and will forever regret buying shoes just because they are cute
I had a great stay-cation over Labor Day weekend with a visit from my friend Nicole to DC.
I took the holiday season by storm with multiple Friendsgivings and holiday parties.
I found a church home and community in NCC.

I took way too many A LOT of pictures out and about exploring DC.

And while I certainly enjoyed getting to know those new friends, I also embraced the old ones that have stuck around and continue to enrich my life.

Oh 2016, you really weren’t all that bad. But I am looking forward to what in store for me in 2017.

Cheers.

Career/Professional, Family, Friendship, Oregon

Catching Up in 2016…

So it has officially been a month since I last blogged.

Oops. I’ve been doing so well over the past year, but I was bound to have a dry spell again, and it definitely won’t be the last time. To be fair, 2016 has already been a whirlwind, and when I wasn’t busy, I really wasn’t motivated. So today will really just be about catching up a bit and sharing what I have been up to so far this year.

Extra points for those who aren’t related to me and didn’t just close the web browser.

Homeward Bound Again

In the almost 8 years since having left Oregon, I usually always go a few months in between my trips home. This time though, work sent me back just two short weeks after I had been home for Christmas.

This is also where I should note that over those past 8 years of a LOT of air travel, I have a pretty good track record. Only once have I had to spend the night in an airport. I have had to run to make a connection maybe 2 or 3 times and again there has only been one time that I had to get a hotel because of a missed connection due to delays. But my flight to Portland on this trip? I missed completely because I slept in. Let me tell you, the feeling of dread when you wake up and see daylight through the window when you should have been at the airport before sunrise, is not something I want to feel again. I was able to catch another direct flight later in the afternoon, but I am still pretty embarrassed.

My trip to Portland was to participate in a PNW Wheat Marketing Tour with the Idaho Wheat Commission, to experience the wheat supply chain from start to finish. I really value anytime that I get to spend quality time with our farmers and I especially enjoyed seeing a city that I grew up near through a new set of lenses. I won’t go into to much detail, but I did write a short article about my experience, “Pacific Northwest Grain Industry Tour Reveals Source of Quality, Reliability” that you can read here.  My favorite part was hands down, was the opportunity to ride on a tugboat that was pushing a barge up the river.  I didn’t know it was possible to nerd out that much over a tugboat, but friends, IT WAS SO COOL. Even though I grew up watching tugboats and barges on the nearby Columbia River, transportation in agriculture is one of the sectors that I know the least about. Life on the tugboat is a unique line of work and I now have a much better appreciation for that part of the supply chain.

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The Wheat Marketing Center is one of a kind. This is a great place for tours and learning about wheat foods. They are doing a lot of really could research!
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Out on the tugboat! It was SO cold!

I was in Portland Sunday through Wednesday, when my sister drove in to pick me up and take me back home to Eastern Oregon. As always I packed as much as I possibly could into my time at home. On Thursday I went to my old high school to speak with two groups of students. My audience ranged from freshmen to seniors so instead of just focusing on same old college and career prep that they are going to endlessly hear from someone else, I chatted with them on the importance of your “own personal brand” and the role it plays — whether you have an online presence or not — in both college and the start of your career. I shared with them about some of my personal experiences, how I’ve handled both success and failure and a few real life tips. The one student that I personally knew assured me that it was a really good presentation, and I definitely wasn’t lame. .. to be honest, I was just really pumped that I was able to tie in both a Harry Potter and Doctor Who meme into my key messages. #adulting.

I spent some time with my family, watching the high school boys basketball game that my Grampy coaches, and on Saturday my whole family went to our local annual variety show, which was complete with a cast iron-cooked dinner. This is the first year that I have been able to go, and it certainly reminded me why I love my small hometown. The highlight of my weekend though, was being able to attend my best friend’s baby shower. Richole and Dustin are due mid-March, and when they heard that I would be back home again, Richole’s mother-in-law agreed to move the shower date just so I could be there. I have a few friends with babies now, but Richole is the first of my best gals, and that meant the world to me that I could be there to help celebrate.

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Love this girl so much, and I am so excited to see her become a mama.

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Winter Storm Jonas

A few days after I got back from Oregon, the East Coast was hit by Winter Storm Jonas. Now I’ve grown up with snow in the mountains and there were blizzards in Kansas, but this storm and experience was UNREAL. My college friend Jancey had been in town that week for a conference and was planning on staying through the weekend for a fun tourist weekend with me. Instead, she ending up snowed in with me and couldn’t get a flight out for another 2 days. The snowfall lasted for about 36 hours straight and accumulated an average 17 to 26 inches throughout the area. My office was closed for two full days and there were many more half days and delayed starts. When I first moved hear people tried to explain that the city pretty much shuts completely down. Of course, until I experienced it first hand I couldn’t quite grasp what that meant. Grocery stores were empty, and I had a carton of eggs stolen out of my cart the day before storm! A reporter I know back in Kansas even referenced it in a article she wrote #thingsyoucantmakeup. Jancey and I watched A LOT of movies, ventured out a few times when visibility finally cleared up and participated in an epic snowball fight outside of the Clarendon Metro Station. Oh and I had a leak in my kitchen ceiling. I might have some good stories, but its definitely an experience I am not looking forward to having again anytime soon. I really wish WordPress would get its act together and make it easier to attach videos without first putting them on YouTube, because there are a few on my Instagram and Facebook that capture quick looks at our long, crazy weekend.

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Josh Abbott Band

In college I built my budget around being able to go to concerts of all sizes and genres.  But Aggieville, the bar district in Manhattan, KS, is where I fell in love with red dirt/Texas country music. Since moving to DC I hadn’t sought any of the music scenes yet, so when a friend told me she heard JAB would be in the area, there was no way that I was going to miss it. The venue, 9:30 Club, was great, and apparently one of the more popular small venues in the area. A K-State friend who is a student at Georgetown Law tagged along, and while it was great to hear some of their new music, I was really excited to hear most of my old favorites that made me fall in love with the genre and really, Kansas, in the first place.

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Josh Abbott Band at 9:30 Club

Board Meetings

A lot of my busy schedule recently was due to the winter board meeting at work. While our summer and fall meetings are always at other locations, the winter one is here in DC. Between the holidays, travel and the winter storm, by the time I reached the week of the board meeting, it felt like I hadn’t had a “normal” since about mid-December. But even though this meeting had a different pace because the staff doesn’t travel, I really enjoy board meetings. I love the collaboration and hearing about what the different parts of our organization are working on and accomplishment. And of course I really value the opportunity to interact with our farmers and state staff. Outside of the DC office there are so many quality people who contribute to our mission, and getting to know those people personally adds so much more purpose to my career. I was especially excited though, because we recently brought on one of my good friends as a freelancer for the communications team and she was able to make it up to DC for the meetings. Nicole and I both call Northeast Oregon home and vaguely knew each other through FFA, and then ended up becoming friends as ag comm majors at K-State. It’s always nice when the world feels a bit smaller and I am so excited that our paths have continued to cross back and forth.

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Nicole and I were able to make a little bit of time for some tourist fun.

Thanks for catching up with me. Next week I will be back to a regular blogging schedule. I am pretty excited that end of winter is in sight! So far my spring calendar includes National Ag Day events, a girls weekend NYC trip with my best friend Megan, a quick work trip to Kansas, searching for a new apartment to move into at the end of May and HOPEFULLY a quick trip to Georgia to watch my sister play in the NAIA Women’s Golf Championship!

Always something to look forward to.!

Cheers.