One Regular Scrabble Mocha With Whipped Cream

Today, the icy wind took the breath out of me. I was on the opposite end of campus from my hall picking something up, so I stopped in the coffee shop downtown for a mocha to warm me up on the walk home.

It was there that I was invited to a Scrabble game, hosted by the elderly barista and middle aged jeweler from the attached jewelry store. “It happens daily, sometimes more than once,” they told me.

Wherever you live, whether you know no one or everyone in town, there are little pockets of community waiting for you to join in. You just have to step out and find them.

“Only boring people are bored.”

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The Liebster Award

I’m back.

Several weeks (ahem…months) ago, a college friend and fellow blogger, Britni @ Moustaches on Strings, nominated me for a Liebster Award.  Since I’m guest posting on another friend’s blog next week, I figured I’d better get back into the blogging game so I have something presentable to show when readers (hopefully) click my link!  I had a lot of fun answering Britni’s questions.  Read on to learn more about this cool “award.”)

The Liebster Award is an award distributed by bloggers for blogs with under 200 followers.  Supposedly, it started in Germany, as a way for readers and bloggers to discover new blogs to follow.  It connects the blogging community and helps web surfers expand their horizons!

The Rules:
1. Choose 11 other up-and-coming bloggers and link to them in your Liebster post.
2. Answer the 11 questions the previous blogger set for you, then create 11 different ones for the bloggers you will choose.
3. Let those bloggers know you nominated them.
4. No tag backs. No mulligans. No puppy guarding. Okay, just don’t tag the person who nominated you.
5. Display the Liebster logo. 

WIthout further ado…here are the questions that Britni gave me to answer:

1. Crumple or fold? (toilet paper, that is.)  Crumple.  I strongly believe this results in more folds per square inch, and therefore, more layers of toilet paper, and THEREFORE, more bang for your buck.

2. How do you feel about people who chew on ice?  I think I might be ambivalent.  I don’t care for people who chew on huge pieces of ice (think the “cubed” setting on refrigerator ice machines), but I myself have been known to chew smaller ice occasionally (think the “crushed” setting). Generally I just prefer to let it melt and have, as the dear Michael Ulmer taught me to call it, “Second Drink.”

3. How do we know each other?  Britni lived just down the hall from me…on the second floor of Frees Hall at Doane College.  We were English majors and boy-crazy at the same time (still are, both of those things).  Though we don’t talk too often, I know she’s my hippie, grammar-loving friend who will always be game for a chat!

4. N*SYNC or Backstreet Boys? Why?  First, the fact that I corrected the location of the asterisk on N*SYNC before I answered this should tell you something.  A younger, less worldly me might have answered Backstreet Boys, but let’s be real.  I had dolls.  I had wall posters.  I had wallet-sized posters.  I had every fun fact from Tiger Beat and J-14 memorized.  And when it came time to give CDs to the thrift store the summer before college…out the door went the Backstreet Boys.  I still listen to the N*SYNC Christmas album in my car every winter.  Last, but not least, the highlight of my adult life thus far was when Lance Bass tweeted me “xoxo.”  Life. Made.

Image5. What is one book that changed your life? How?  Wow.  I think this is the hardest question you could give me.  I could write pages and pages of books that have changed me.  I think, to keep it short, I will choose my favorite book: The Barn by Avi.  Though it is short and simple, and categorized as a young adult novel,  The Barn taught me important lessons about family, hard work, and appreciating what I have.  I still remember getting a copy as a gift.  I had read it so many times and checked it out so often from the library (several times literally checking it in, then asking them to check it right back out if it wasn’t on hold).  Then, on Christmas that year, I unwrapped a brand new, hardcover version with a simple note from my dad on the inside cover: “The book you love, for the girl we love.”  My father, who always teased me about buying books because “Why do you need to read them more than once?” had purchased this for me, and had acknowledged that you could “love” a book.  The gift changed my life almost as much as the story itself.

6. How is your life different than what you had imagined it would be at age 11?  In too many ways to count!  I’m in a completely different career field.  I have absolutely no interest in being a lawyer.  I’m not married and have no children (go ahead, tease me for that). I am not living in Boston (and don’t plan to anytime soon).  I live in Kansas instead, a place I had only been to one time and considered the land of only Dorothy and Toto.

7. Is there one piece of jewelry that you always wear?  There are two: first, my mother’s ring, which her parents gave her for her high school graduate and which she gave me for mine.  Second, my watch.  It’s not an heirloom, but I do love it.  It was a gift and it’s from Fossil.  I couldn’t live with just telling the time off my cell phone.

8.  Why aren’t tattoos/facial piercings acceptable in the majority of professional workplaces?  I couldn’t exactly answer.  There are different rules at different places, and I’m sure different justifications.  For as much as I am pro-self expression, I’m surprised I’m against visible tattoos and excessive piercings in the workplace.  Here’s my personal viewpoint:  in any workplace, we should strive to maintain focus on the work we do and the product/service/thing we produce or provide.  ALL forms of external expression that are excessive (this includes inappropriate or too casual dress, visible tattoos, excessive piercings, out of control hair, etc) can be a distraction to the people we work with as well as the people we serve.  I guess this would justify why tattoos are okay while working at a tattoo parlor, or unique hairstyles are welcome as a hairstylist.  I don’t know, take this with a grain of salt, because I’m uncertain!

9.  Could you survive without sunglasses? Obviously I’m being dramatic. How would forgetting your sunglasses at home impact your day?  Since I wear glasses over contacts 99% of the time, and my sunglasses are prescription, my day would be negatively impacted. (This is less so when I’m at my desk at work, and more when I’m out and about during the day.)  Sometimes, I wear my sunglasses and forget my regular glasses…so I’m the person at Target wearing her sunglasses around, trying to read the overhead signs to find what I need.

10.  What language do you love to listen to, but don’t understand or speak any yourself? Why?  Italian.  Oh, it’s so beautiful and romantic-sounding.  This is partially because I don’t understand any of it, so it sounds extra exotic (I’m a French speaker myself).  But it is also partially because I had an unhealthy obsession with the Lizzie McGuire movie as a teenager, in which she falls in love with an Italian celebrity and lives out her dream of performing in front of thousands of people while impersonating an Italian pop star.

11.  What is your favorite color combination?  This changes every few months! What usually sticks around, though, is my love for neutrals with dusty, antiqued colors as an accent.  I’m also a fan of a good metallic (gold only please, no silver).  And lately, my favorite combo to dress in is a coral pink with mint green.  I chose this palette because it has a little bit of everything I like (plus tea, which I love!).

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AND NOW, THE MOMENT YOU’VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR…

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THE LIEBSTER NOMINEES FROM POINT OF FOCUS!

(Rumour on the interwebs has it that the original award only requires nomination of 3-6 bloggers, so that’s how many I’m going to do! I hope you’ll click their links and follow them.  These people have great things to say!  And for those tagged who haven’t posted in awhile…I hope this inspires you as it did me.)

1.  Grace and Peace

2.  A God-Fashioned Life

3.  College Forever

4. Life Scribbler

5. Minus the Linus

6. Bubble Wrapped Blog

Here are my questions for you, nominees:

1. If you could go back and do college over again, what would you major in?

2.  Who is your favorite TV character, and why?

3.  You get one question to ask to one famous person who is no longer living. Who is the person, and what is the question?

4.  What accessory can you “not live without?”

5.  Paper or plastic?

6.  Describe a favorite memory you have with a friend.  

7.  What is your favorite beverage?

8.  What smell reminds you of home?

9.  Coffee or tea? Why? (I really need to know. I can’t decide.)

10.  What is your favorite word?

I can’t wait to read your posts and watch your followers grow!

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This Weekend I…

This weekend, I…celebrated a milestone (sort of) in my weight loss journey.  At first, I got on the scale and thought I had reached my first milestone of 10 lbs down.  Well, not quite.  When I stepped on again, I learned I still have another .8 to lose.  BUT, first thing this Monday morning, my supervisor at work told me I need to buy smaller clothes because my outfit is looking baggy! Some might not call that a compliment, but to me it definitely is.  Today is about 9 weeks into my weight loss journey, and since I have been losing slower than most, I thought this saying wouldn’t hold true. I’d say that’s close enough! Now onto the next goal.

This weekend, I…babysat for one of my favorite families.  Just had the little boy and the Great Dane, but this lovely couple has nine (yes, I said NINE) boys (yes, I said all BOYS).  They are a blended family making it work and balancing a lot of different schedules, and I am inspired by their faith and their dedication to family every time I visit.  I’m overnight babysitting for them in a couple of weeks (no, not all nine kids) so they can go to a wedding in Las Vegas! It will certainly be an adventure.

This weekend, I…got all caught up on Glee! Only problem is, I’ve rekindled my addiction. I don’t know what I’ll do if I miss an episode now! SO MANY THINGS ARE HAPPENING.

This weekend, I…recognized Daylight Savings Time, but my body did not.  It was so hard to fall asleep last night, and even harder to wake up today! Alas, here I am.

Sorry I don’t have more to share this lovely Monday.  My weekend was generally uninteresting.  BUT, I’m on my way to Minnesota for a wedding on Saturday and Spring Break with Nate and my parents, so next week’s post should be chock full of pictures and fun!  Until then, I’ll leave you with some more of my favorite motivational pictures!

What I’m doing in 2013. (#MAKEITCOUNT via Nike+)

Making it count…

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Linking up:

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Syndal @ Synfully Delicious

Sarah @ Life of Love

Laura @ The Luckiest In Love

This Weekend I…

This weekend, I…decided to start doing a weekend recap! I can’t take credit for the handy idea. It comes from three other lovely ladies. Please check out their links at the bottom of this post! I love the idea of doing a weekend recap. I’ve been sporadic about blogging due to my busy schedule, but I’d like to make it a regular hobby, and a weekend recap seems like the perfect way to make sure I post regularly.

This weekend, I…started off Saturday by meeting Laura for coffee.  I was first inspired by her dedication to health, fitness, and her own weight loss journey, which she’s chronicled on her blog here.  But now that we are blog/Twitter/Instagram buddies (and since enjoying some great conversation over coffee), I’ve learned so much more about her! She’s a strong, faith-minded, fashionable young married woman, and her adventures are certainly worth keeping up with!

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This weekend, I…enjoyed Mexican food and shopping with our favorite couple friends! I wish Mr. Photographer could have beenthere.  We love spending time with these two.  They helped me pick out a new dress for a friend’s wedding in two weeks! Can’t believe March crept up on me so quickly.  But it means our Spring Break trip to see my parents in Minnesota isn’t that far away! I can’t wait!  I also met up with these two for a final weekend party at the Orange Leaf (frozen yogurt place) on Sunday evening. Yum!

Aren’t they a stylish pair?

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New dress…I love that it’s so versatile! I plan on dressing it up and down often.

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This weekend, I…started getting caught up on one of my favorite shows–Glee! I just started the most recent season.  I know, I know, I’m way behind. But I always have class on the night it airs! Man, did it ever make for a wonderful day! Now, if I could tear myself away and focus on schoolwork… (Schoolwork? What’s that?)

This weekend, I…learned I am another pound closer to my weight loss goal.  I’ve only lost 7 pounds since I started in January, but I keep reminding myself that each one of those counts!  Sure, I’d like to be losing faster, but it’s nice to know that even when I “slip up,” I’m still slipping up within reason, and I’m still losing weight, slowly but surely. Gotta keep my eye on the prize!

This weekend, I…celebrated (from afar) one and a half years with the love of my life. While I wish we could have been together, he always manages to make me feel like he’s never more than an arm’s length away.

And there we have it! I have a feeling next weekend won’t be quite so eventful…more like working ahead on homework so I can actually enjoy our Spring Break trip!

What are you looking forward to?

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P.S. Don’t forget to check out the beautiful blogs of my first ever link-up buddies! Thanks for the idea, ladies!

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Syndal @ Synfully Delicious

Sarah @ Life of Love

Laura @ The Luckiest In Love

Things I Take For Granted

The best way to pay for a lovely moment is to enjoy it.

-Richard David Bach (Author, 1936 – )

A few posts back, I wrote about some of the benefits of long-distance relationships. You learn so much and come to appreciate one another in a wonderful way. But I would be remiss if I didn’t let myself have a pity party once in awhile, and as he prepared to leave tonight and drove away, I found myself desperate for him to stay and just be “normal” for a little bit longer.

One of the hardest things about living alone in a strange place is the lack of human contact. As I said in a previous post, when I walk in my apartment after a goodbye, I am suddenly overwhelmed with a sense of “too quiet, too empty, too lonely” (if you know me, this is rough going!). I can go several days at a time with minimal conversation, just because of the nature of my lifestyle. I know I can go out and about, but what I miss the most are the gentle moments of a hand on my face, laughter from the other room, the presence of someone I love next to me on the couch.

In light of all these fresh feelings, I thought I would compose a brief list of things one can enjoy when sharing time with a loved one–things that I especially miss when we are apart. I hope you will find your significant other and take a moment to appreciate the following things:

  • Calling out “I love you” from another room and hearing them call back.
  • Holding hands in the car.
  • Shutting the front door behind you and sitting down to relax instead of packing up their things.
  • Watching shows together and high-fiving at all the best jokes.
  • Having someone to help with cooking, the dishes, taking the trash out, etc…. 🙂
  • Getting a back rub and calming words when you are sleepless from insomnia.
  • Making weird noises to yourself and hearing another’s laugh.
  • Being cared for when you’re sick.
  • Date nights.
  • Slow dancing in the kitchen to no music.
  • Sharing desserts (this might be a downside, now that I think of it…)
  • A hug whenever you need it.
  • Always celebrating birthdays, Valentine’s Days, and anniversaries together.

This list could go on forever! I know that we are blessed to live in the 21st century, and we take advantage of all the communicative technology available to us as often as possible. But nothing will ever compare to having someone next to you when that’s all you’d need to feel a little better.

Thanks for putting up with my brief pity-party! What things do you appreciate most about your significant other?

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The hardest part of the journey is taking the first step.

Happy New Year!

Wow. My first semester of grad school brought with it a ton of crazy adventures.  And by crazy, I mean exciting, frustrating, challenging, emotional, and educational…not the same kind of crazy you might be thinking.  I didn’t post very much, mostly because I didn’t have the energy and I was focusing so much attention on getting the most out of my job and searching for a new one for next year.

I just can’t hold it in: I have to announce that starting in August, I’ll be working at Baker University as an Area Coordinator/Graduate Assistant for Student Activities & Community Service!  Baker is a small, liberal arts school about 15 minutes south of KU. I am SO EXCITED about this opportunity.  Making the move to a small school now is going to be a great fit, and really get me the experiences I need to apply to similar institutions for after graduation.  That is such a strange thought…a year from now I’ll be looking into post-graduation jobs.  I know that Baker is the right place for me at this point in my career and schooling.  For now, I’ll keep throwing my energy into making the last semester of our freshman scholar program the best it can be, while looking forward to what’s to come.

I’m also in the process of applying for summer internships. No official news yet, but fingers crossed!

Now that (some of) my ducks are in a row as far as work is concerned, I’ve really decided to make 2013 a year to work on myself. This is the last full calendar year I’ll have being a student, and even when I go back for my PhD I’ll be working full time and balancing family. So I figure before I “grow up” once and for all and focus more energy on my loved ones, I’m going to try really hard to get myself in good mental, physical, and spiritual health.  Really, “working on myself” is a job that should never be finished, because I know I’ll be a different person each new day until my last. But I’m blessed to have the time, energy, and resources at this point in my life to make it my number one priority, and that’s my goal.

I talked about “mindfulness” in my holiday post.  That’s part one of my journey.  Part two of my journey is physical health.  I have joined myfitnesspal.com and started logging my meals and snacks (if you’re on there, add me! Username: lauraejacob). It’s amazing how little I knew before I started about the nutritional content (or lack thereof) of what I put in my body.  The site also includes a feature where you can input your exercise for the day, and it adjusts your calories so you can still lose weight, but fuel your body enough to work out.  Using the university rec center (I pay for it in my student fees, why wasn’t I using it before?) and my trusty Biggest Loser DVDs at home, I have been working out at least 5 days a week.  I have a great support system of fellow grad students and friends, and we all help to hold each other accountable.

It’s a choice to stay unhealthy, and it’s a choice to be healthy. Why wouldn’t I make the choice that has benefits for me?  When life is feeling out of control, the one thing I have complete control over is my health.  Along the lines of being mindful, I hope that proclaiming my goals for the world to hear is going to hold me more accountable.  I have a lot of good reasons to be healthy, and here are some of them:

  1. I’m young. I am energetic. But I don’t have a body that allows me to express that. I want to have a family and not only be able to keep up with my kids, but instill in them the values of health and fitness.  I can’t do that if I don’t make it a priority myself! Now is the best time to start, because I’ve got a lot of years ahead of me!  If I get healthy now, I might have even more years ahead of me.  My key word has been: lifestyle.  This is not a diet, phase, health kick, or resolution.  It’s a commitment to a lifestyle that I will maintain for life.
  2. Okay, call it superficial, but it’s motivation: I want to wear all of the cutest clothes!  For me, it’s all about confidence.  It’s rough waking up each morning and hating what I see in the mirror. Nothing seems to fit right, and I can’t shop online and just assume that I will fit into the clothes I like. If I can continue to reach the goals I set for myself through the end of this year: shopping spree for a new, size-appropriate wardrobe!
  3. 2013 is going to be a big year. Starting my second year of grad school, a new job, and–fingers crossed–getting engaged to the love of my life.  When I show my engagement (and later, wedding) pictures off 20, 30, 60 years from now, I want to look like the best version of myself. I want to be proud of how I look and the journey I started this year.  No more bad photos!
  4. Day to day health.  People in healthier bodies, with healthier habits, get sick less. Already, I’ve experienced some of the health benefits of working out and eating right: better sleep, a quicker recovery time from that cold I thought I was getting, not getting as winded walking up the massive hill upon which KU sits.  I feel like an ex-smoker…the health benefits will only keep coming, if I just work for them!

So there you have it.  Some of my goals for my journey!  Along with the many other things I’m working on this year, I’ll keep you updated on my progress.  Don’t be afraid to ream me out if I say I’m not going to the gym, or if I try and justify eating something unhealthy! I can take it. 🙂

Tell me: what are you going to do this year to put yourself first? Do you have something that’s motivating you to get healthy?  Remember: the hardest part of the journey is taking the first step.

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Reflecting and Renewing

Happy Holidays!  

After completing a November of appreciative “thankfuls” (once-a-day Facebook statuses detailing something you are thankful for that day), it seems December is the month for reflecting and refreshing, as we gauge how the year has gone and look forward to a new one.  This is certainly the case for me.  It’s been a big year!

This semester, I lost track for a short while.  Within one month of being in Kansas (still adjusting to the new apartment and city), I learned that two of my supervisors were leaving for new positions, and the program with which I hold my assistantship is ending in May 2013.  Cue the downward spiral and sad trombone sound effect.  For someone who invests a lot of energy in constant improvement, the news presented a unique challenge: once an event was over, there was no reason to reflect on what we could do better next year. I found myself feeling depressed and pointless some days.

Sometime during the semester, in the throes of challenging coursework, a centipede-ridden apartment, long-distance struggles, and pinching pennies for groceries, I decided that I needed to make the most of the disruption.  On one hand, I could seek out a new position that included as many elements of my current one as possible, thereby ensuring I had a full two-year experience of what I had signed on for.  But that wouldn’t really be my style.  So I started pursuing opportunities that are way out of my comfort zone, in the hope that cramming as much learning and growing into my graduate school experience as possible will make me a well-rounded practitioner.  In January, I will apply to new offices and ideally, one of them will offer me a position and I will finally have next year’s plans nailed down.  Who knows what I’ll end up doing?

But this whole semester has been a waiting game–and as a planner, I have struggled.  Some nights I go to sleep praying that just one thing could finally go the way it’s supposed to, finally work out the way it does in my head.  Looking around, it seems like everyone else’s lives are stable–they are keeping their jobs, their programs still exist, their bosses aren’t going anywhere.  But so much of my character has been formed by the challenges I’ve faced, so I’m not sure why graduate school would be any different.  I have my ups and downs, but generally, I’m thankful I wake up each day a stronger person because of what I faced yesterday.

At the NASPA Region IV-W conference in South Dakota this year, I attended a session all about “mindfulness” in student affairs practice.  This field is full of such dedicated people that we often put our students before ourselves.  The session emphasized that being “mindful” (constantly present and engaged in our surroundings) can help us to focus on our own health and well-being, making us better practitioners.

January is a big month: hearing back from assistantships and internships, applying for scholarships, making permanent plans for next year.  Regardless of how it all works out, I know I’ll breathe a sigh of relief knowing that I finally have some kind of plan.  Then, I’ll make it my goal for the new year to be more mindful: relaxing and engaging in each day in a new way, trusting that in the process the future will work out.  I promise to share all my news with you here.  Until then, I’ll be spending my time reflecting on where I’ve been this year, where I want to go, and how its all helped me grow as a person.

How about you? How have you grown in 2012?  What will you do to be more mindful in 2013?

Peace, joy, blessings, and love this wonderful season-

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