The Good Stuff

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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#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.

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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!

The Road I Traveled Series

The Road I Traveled: Meet Lauren

“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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This week I have been traveling for work in Oregon, which meant that I had the chance for a long weekend at home with my family. This afternoon I met with a group of students at my school, and one of the key things we talked about was the importance of building your network and how it evolves throughout college and into your career.

Lauren, my guest feature today, is a perfect example of that.  Lauren is a part of my AFA network, and while I know that we have “known” each other for while, she’s an example of someone in my outer network (because of AFA)  with whom I’ve more recently connected with directly when our jobs led us to cross paths again at a conference last summer. Lauren is a fellow ag comm grad, and like me, moved to an entirely new place for her job. Lauren is incredibly kind, has a heart for agriculture and people, and she is tackling the ups and downs of what I call “the crazy post-grad life” head on. I am excited to share Lauren’s story with you. It’s refreshing and sincere, and she has some great advice!

-Amanda 

Lauren summary picture


Basics

Name: Lauren Prettyman
Age: 23
Hometown: Marion, Ohio
College: The Ohio State University
Degree(s): Agriculture Communication
Current Location: Columbia, South Carolina
Current Job: Media Specialist for South Carolina Farm Bureau

Background Story:
I often tell people I had the best of both worlds growing up – living in the city close to my school friends, yet being able to escape to the farm whenever I wanted. My parents divorced when I was too young to remember; I lived with my mom in Marion, Ohio, a city of about 35,000 just north of Columbus, and visited my dad often, who lives on a beautiful farm right outside of Marion.

I have three younger siblings, and growing up with them was nothing less than crazy at all times. Tyler (21) is in his fourth year at Ohio State to become a small animal vet tech – I know he’ll be great at this because he is totally a dog whisperer. Wesley (15) is already a hundred times more motivated than I was in high school, and will someday reach the prestigious goal of ‘dotting the i’ for the OSU marching band (The Best Damn Band In The Land). Halle (14) has all the athletic ability that the older three of us didn’t get – she’ll be famous one day.

As it was for many farm kids, my love for agriculture grew from helping my dad on the farm. I started 4-H as soon as I was old enough. My two favorite weeks of the year were county fair week and 4-H camp week. In typical ag kid fashion, I joined FFA in high school, continuing the projects I had started through 4-H. I was the Star Greenhand freshman year, spent two years as the chapter treasurer, served as the chapter vice president my senior year and received my American Degree two years later. I was hooked on FFA and, inspired by my advisor, I set off to college to become an ag teacher.

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Hiking with my family in Asheville, NC this past Thanksgiiving

College

How did you choose your college and your major?
When I initially started my college search, I looked for schools everywhere other than Ohio. Knowing I wanted to pursue a career in agriculture, I studied the list of the country’s top ag schools before making any decisions. I visited Purdue, Penn State and a few others, but none of them seemed to fit what I was looking for. At a loss for other options, I applied to OSU and was accepted.

I started as a freshman majoring in ag education, but after participating in my Early Field Experience in a classroom setting, I knew ag ed wasn’t for me. Halfway through my junior year at Ohio State I changed my major to ag communication. I excelled in my ag comm classes and knew that was where I needed to be. I minored in production ag, which allowed me to take an entry level class in just about every part of the Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences  – food science, plant science, animal science, soil science, meat science and ag business.

Despite initially not wanting to go to Ohio State, I quickly fell in love with the university – the campus, the people, the traditions. I am so thankful God had greater plans for me than I could have ever imagined, and led me to Ohio State.

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Ohio State football game with my friends and 100,000 other Buckeye fans!

What were you involved with outside of class? Organizations? Internships?
I started freshman year in a scholars program – Mount Leadership Society – which focused on scholarship, leadership and service. I quickly learned that MLS was not for me, but because of my involvement in that program, I was able to connect with the other CFAES students, and meet my best friend, whom I attribute much of my college involvement to.

It wasn’t until my sophomore year, that I truly grasped college for what it had to offer. I became involved in anything and everything I could possibly fit into my schedule – Ag Ed Society, Ag Communicators of Tomorrow, Meat Science Club, Ag Business Club, CFAES Student Council, among other things. I was accepted into Alpha Zeta Partners, an OSU ag honorary, which allowed me to travel to Brazil for a semester. I caught the travel bug and also traveled to Chile, Ireland and Costa Rica through CFAES programs.

One organization I became involved outside of Ohio State was Ag Future of America. This organization was the true catalyst for my desire to become an ag leader. The AFA Leaders Conference connected me with students from around the country who were passionate about making a positive difference in the ag industry, and also allowed me to meet industry professionals, presidents and CEOs who were passionate about educating us to be the future leaders of agriculture.

What were your biggest challenges or obstacles in college? Anything you would change?
Motivation was something I struggled with freshman year. I didn’t have the desire to become involved, I wasn’t worried about my grades and I skipped a lot of 8 a.m. classes. Thankfully I snapped out of that, got my grades up and became uber involved. But once I took all of that on, the time management struggle was real. I had to learn how to balance my classes, a million organizations, two jobs, my social life, oh, and sleep at some point. Not entirely sure how I did it, but I must have learned something because I came out on top with good grades and lifelong friendships. Shout out to my parents and friends who supported me and kept me sane!

Do you have any regrets in college, or anything you would change if you had the chance?
I am so grateful for all of my experiences during my four years at Ohio State – good and bad. I am a firm believer in the cliché saying ‘everything happens for a reason’ and because of that, I try not to regret any decisions I have made. However, if I could change anything about my experience, I would have gotten more involved sooner. College is about new experiences and personal growth, and often we do not realize this until we’re already halfway through the journey. And internships – I would do so many more internships!

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The farm I stayed at during my homestay in Costa Rica.

Post Grad

Tell us about your career so far.
My current position at South Carolina Farm Bureau is new to the organization, making me the first media specialist they’ve ever had! My job description includes responsibilities like writing news releases and creating social media content, but because I’m in a brand new position, I’ve been really fortunate to sort of make it what I want and what the organization needs. I write a lot – news releases, newsletters, magazine articles, government relations content, you name it. One of my favorite aspects of my job is that I get to travel around the state visiting farmers, hearing their stories, using that for content.

I had no idea the steep learning curve I’d face when I started. I was introduced to crops I’d never even seen in a field before – peanuts, cotton and tobacco. I didn’t know what they looked like, how they were grown or how they were harvested. I didn’t even know peanuts grew underground! But I so loved learning about these crops. And parts of South Carolina have a growing season of nearly 300 days, which allows producers to grow fresh produce almost year-round. I have grown proud to be part of this amazingly diverse industry in South Carolina, and I love that my job allows me to tell the story of South Carolina’s farmers.

How have your experiences and involvement in college set you up for success in your career and life post grad?
Each of the clubs and organizations I was involved in have impacted my professional life in unique ways. The hard skills like time management and budgeting have definitely been helpful in post-grad life, but the soft skills were really invaluable. Communication, teamwork, adaptability, problem solving – these things are used in the workplace and in life every single day! My study abroad trips had an exceptionally large impact on my soft skills and who I am today, too.

Throughout college you meet so many people in classes, organizations and conferences. This is the basis for your network. All of my involvement created a large network of peers and mentors all around the country. I think that has had the largest impact on my life post-college. No matter where I am, I always know someone. But networking doesn’t stop after college – we have to be intentional about expanding our networks and staying in touch with people we’ve 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?

Moving out of state to a new city where I knew no one. This was one of the best but most difficult decisions I’ve ever made; it was so much harder than I imagined. I thought that after interning in Kansas City for a summer and having a blast, moving to Columbia and making friends would be a breeze. I was wrong. It was difficult, but SO worth it. I have grown so much as a person since my move. I learned a lot about myself and was put way outside my comfort zone to get out and try new things and meet new people. I joined a kickball league (my team won the league), discovered I actually like to run (three 5k’s in 2015) and I’ve expanded my taste for seafood!

Feeling lost. I think Kayla talked about this in her post. When you graduate college and land a job, you expect everything to be awesome. You graduated college – what could be harder than that? Life, y’all. For me, working world is basically a 180 from college world. But the encouraging thing is we all face many of the same challenges. I get in my own world and think no one else understands what I’m going through, but when I actually talk to my friends about it, they’re all experiencing similar ups and downs with their jobs. Don’t get discouraged!

Lessons learned: budgeting is scary, home improvement is hard, termites are evil, a good glass of wine can cure just about anything.

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Kickball team photo after winning our league.

At this stage, what are a few of your strengths and weaknesses?
I am a strong writer, a problem-solver and an excellent listener. I also have a huge imagination which leads me to be curious and adventurous in just about every aspect of my life. I love to try new things. My weaknesses include long-term planning, focusing on tasks, dark chocolate and wine (hehe). If you really want to know my personality type, I’m an ISFP to the core!! (http://www.16personalities.com/isfp-personality)

And apparently I’m a perfectionist (it took me three days and about a hundred drafts to craft my perfect answers for this questionnaire).

How do you stay motivated when work gets really busy or difficult?

My faith, family and friends keep me motivated and on track every day. I am truly blessed to be surrounded by amazing peers, friends and family who inspire me to be my best. When I’m feeling unmotivated or too far from home, it’s the long phone conversations with my parents or close friends that encourage me to keep moving forward.

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

I had the option of getting rid of my personal phone and switching over to my work phone when I was hired. I didn’t do that. Initially because I didn’t want to sell my soul to Farm Bureau, but it has actually worked out great for many reasons. When I leave the office I don’t have to be constantly seeing my work emails pop up. I can periodically check my work phone to make sure nothing urgent has come up, but otherwise work is ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ Be intentional about keeping personal life and work life separate. I try not to take my work home with me or let my personal life influence my work.

What in your #PostGradLife are you most proud of so far?

I planned a U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance Food Dialogue this past November. Initially, the project was not fully mine, but because of happenings around the office, I had to take over planning. It was my first solo project. To plan out every little detail, pray people show up, and then see the event succeed was enormously rewarding.

What does life look like right now? Hobbies and interests? What outside of work are you passionate about?

My free-time is spent traveling, hiking, running, playing kickball, exploring Columbia, and staying involved at church.

My relationship with God has grown a lot since moving to Columbia. I found a church I love, was baptized and have recently started a bible study group for young professional women in the area.

My love of hiking has also grown. South Carolinians are big on the outdoors. I’ve always loved hiking, but thanks to South Carolina’s basically year-round beautiful weather and close proximity to tons of parks and trails, I hike a lot more than I ever have. It’s awesome because I’m spending time doing something I love and I’m getting a good workout at the same time!

Just for Fun

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

I always check the weather before leaving the house – wouldn’t want to get caught in the rain without an umbrella. And I love to listen to K-Love on my drive to work – it starts my day off on the right foot.

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

Green tea! It has the perfect amount of caffeine to wake me up but keep me focused. And music. I’m addicted to Spotify.

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

Something that would allow me to travel a lot. Travel blogger/writer, or if I work on my photography skills, a travel photographer.

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Visiting McWay Waterfall in Big Sur, California with my best friend Mara.

Moment of truth, what do you really miss about college?

My friends! A lot of us who graduated together have moved out of state. I miss being a short walk from all of my friends.

The beauty of campus. There’s nothing better than the start of a new season on The Oval – the first snowfall, all the flowers blooming in the spring and the leaves changing in the fall. South Carolina hardly has seasons.

And football, of course. Oh how I miss being surrounded by thousands of Ohio State fans every Saturday during the fall. Living in SEC country is rough, y’all.

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Lauren, thank you so much for participating and being so genuine in sharing your story. I enjoyed getting to know you a bit better and am even more thankful now that our paths have crossed again!

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!