I Resolve To… ((A Journey of Growing.))

Hello and happy (almost) spring! If you are like me (and many hopeful others), you probably made some sort of resolution for 2015. How are you doing?!?! Are you seeing willful and meaningful changes in your life? Have you been measuring your progress? Have you formed some new and exciting habits?

I hope so!

2015 has been my year to center myself and take control of the person I want to be. It is also, coincidentally, my 25th year – the year my brain finishes its development. Honestly, it’s like I can feel my pre-frontal cortex making its final adjustments for impulse-control, planning, and sequencing consequences…

I’m totally kidding. But in all seriousness, I am really honing in on some skills that I’d like to continue for my next quarter century, and I think that it’s great if you’ve chosen to do the same! For myself, I looked at areas of intellect, adventure, and physical/mental wellbeing. It has been a lot to take on and challenge myself with, but I’ve set up very measurable objectives in order to meet my final goal which is ultimately to be a happier, healthier, more fulfilled person.

Tip: Fall in love in a comfy chair with an ocean view.

Tip: Fall in love in a comfy chair with an ocean view.

Do you have a lost love? When I was a kid, I was a ravenous reader. I starved for books and I engulfed them. Somewhere between high school and college, I lost my hunger. Reading became a chore and I became a couch potato. I decided that one of my primary goals this year was to revive my love of reading by reading 24 books by the end of the year. It’s March, and I am happy to report that I am about halfway through my eighth book. I’ve shifted my goal to reading as many books as possible this year. So, I’ll ask again – do you have a lost love? A forgotten hobby? Pick that shit up and revive it. (You’re welcome!)

Have you been anywhere new lately? Anywhere exciting? Anywhere that made you cry because of its beauty or warm you to your core? This year, I told myself that I was going to visit three new places. On a whim, I bought a plane ticket to Colorado ($120 roundtrip – thanks Spirit Airlines!) – a place I am well acquainted with and has brought me to tears more than once. If you do nothing else in life, surround yourself with mountains and be humbled by how small you are in this big, beautiful world. After hiking the Hanging Lake Trail and Red Rocks, soaking in hot springs, visiting old friends, and laughing (a lot) with one of my best friends, I returned home with a lighter heart and a smiling face.

Tip: Do go chasing waterfalls. (Hanging Lake, Glenwood Springs, CO)

Tip: Do go chasing waterfalls. (Hanging Lake, Glenwood Springs, CO)

Shortly after, I visited the Virgin Islands and had my soul warmed by the sun, snorkeling, and the beauty of the Caribbean. I cannot tell you how fulfilling these two journeys were to me, or how incredibly grateful I am to have had these opportunities. I can tell you that I don’t want to stop seeking these adventures and exposing myself to the world that surrounds us – whether that be a two hour drive to a state park or a flight to a continent away. I have found my cure for any ailment that may hinder me just by going outside. Nature is for everyone – go get your slice!

Finally, for the past three months, I have been trying to move past pretending to like exercise to actually liking exercise. This has worked to an extent – I have increased my endurance and I look forward to the proud feeling following my workout, but you will not find me dragging myself out of bed every morning at 6am to get to the gym. Unfortunately, I have not come to detest the taste of ice cream, but I have come to dislike the taste of things that are too sweet and most, if not all, processed desserts – particularly candy bars and anything packaged. Fortunately, I have come to really enjoy well-rounded meals, and incorporate a ton of fresh produce and water in my diet. It’s a lifestyle choice not a diet – I’m creating eating habits that I can maintain for long-term, not a short-term fix for weight loss. Listen to your body and abide by the things it needs – and give it a treat once and a while. I know from experience that it really likes treats.

Overlooking Nazareth Bay, St. Thomas, USVI

Overlooking Nazareth Bay, St. Thomas, USVI

My hope for this post is that you are motivated to get moving – whether that is to a new place, a new experience, or literally just moving your body. Moving on to the person you want to be, the person you have big plans for, and the person that deserves the most you can give them. Surround yourself with positive people that love and support you in environment that will foster and encourage growth and personal development. Adopt an optimistic mindset and refine the skills that make you innately you!

Thanks for reading!
Elizabeth

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Pics or it didn’t happen

If a tree falls in the forest, and no one Instagrams it, did it really happen?

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I’m definitely preaching to the choir here, but I think it’s high time to set the phone down and start living. I’ve always been a supporter of social media, I think there are so many amazing ways that it allows us to keep in contact with far away relatives, connect fans and celebrities, and promote amazing causes in ways that weren’t available a decade ago. The possibilities are limitless.

But this limitlessness is a double-edged sword. Social media slowly crept its way into every aspect of our lives, from where we eat, where we shop, where we go, to whom we spend our time with and even where we poop (Places I’ve Pooped), we have the ability of sharing just about anything we desire to social media outlets. And personally, I have nothing wrong with people being able to share anything they want on social media: it’s the beauty of freedom of speech. And if anyone’s proclamations of love or hate, political outbursts, or the sharing of very personal life events is at all bothersome to you, everyone has the ability to block, delete, or hide notifications from those they want to distance themselves from on the internet.

However, the control of social media on our offline lives has become a bit ridiculous. Smart phones have changed the way we experience everything: meal times include instagrams of food at restaurants or home. People are more worried about making their food look better than everyone else’s than they are about eating it before it get’s Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 8.54.21 PMcold. A recent Samsung commercial featured a young couple snapping photos at their child’s soccer game, but what I couldn’t get past was the fact that they were so worried about getting the perfect photo of their kid, that they weren’t even watching the game or cheering on their child. Social events, parties, and hanging out with friends now has more emphasis on taking photos to prove you were together on social media than actually forming connections.

"pics or it didn't happen": the motto of our social lives

“pics or it didn’t happen”: the motto of our social lives

Now, I’m not saying that I’m perfect and always put spending time with people above taking photos or that it’s wrong to take photos: I think it’s incredibly important to preserve the memories we’re forming with our friends and families, and social media is a great way to share this. I even am working on a 365 Photo Challenge where I take a photo every day for a year. This means I am on Facebook and snapping photos of myself, my friends and my surroundings at least once a day.

The issue that I do want to tackle is the emphasis on the “fake” lives we project onto social media. For many, it’s about making their lives look better, more fun and more glamorous than the next person’s page. How often do you check out your newsfeed and jealously swipe through someone else’s photos and wish you had been there or snapped a few more photos last weekend to prove that you were more social and fun? f9a5be830deed7db9fe61534ce10d080 (1)How often are you too busy trying to instagram a photo or upload one to Facebook that you miss the game winning shot or miss out on a friend’s story? I know that I am guilty of looking at people’s photos and wishing that I had been there or done that, or obliviously posting photos and not actually interacting with those around me.

The fact is, no one’s life is as perfect and glamorous as social media makes it out to be. Once you get past this and stop judging your life against someone else’s Facebook page, you’ll realize that yours can be just as fun and exciting if you just let it happen. So often we use our phones as a social buffer in situations where we don’t feel comfortable interacting or talking with people we don’t know, or are just plain bored. But if you just put yourself out there and start a conversation, you’ll be surprised by how easy it is to connect with people and have a good time. So set down your phone, close your laptop, and leave them both at home for the weekend: make memories, not megabytes!

-Jen

Preparing for Christmas

lights Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, many of us turn our attention to “the most wonderful time of the year.” The Christmas season is filled with many beautiful traditions that we’ve been doing since we were children–picking out a Christmas tree, baking cookies, wrapping gifts, and decorating the tree. Although these rituals remain the same year after year, it is good for us to take time to reflect and silence our hearts in this season of preparation.  If are intentional with our time leading up to Christmas, I think our joy on Christmas morning will be that much sweeter.  Here are a couple areas that we might think being more intentional about.

Christmas-Gifts3Gifts. I imagine that most of us are thinking about purchasing gifts for our family and friends.  Last year during my AmeriCorps service, I barely had any money so I decided that I was going to make all of my gifts.  Now I’m not the craftiest person out there, so I’m sure you can do it, too.  I realized that making my gifts made me really think about what I was giving and why.  I made homemade body scrubs, chocolate spoons, popcorn seasoning, and mustard just to name a few. Pinterest has something for everyone in your life, I promise.

advent1Faith. Many of us probably go to church with our families on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, but we need not wait until then to prepare our hearts for the Lord. The Advent season is celebrated in most Christian churches in the month leading up to Christmas; many churches have concerts, penance services, and volunteer opportunities.  These are great ways to slow down in the midst of the holiday hustle and bustle and take time for peace and quiet. If you’re looking for something more concrete, here’s a link to receive daily reflections for the season in your inbox or guided meditation from Ireland! (check out the relaxing music, too!)

So as we each prepare for Christmas in our own ways, I hope you’ll look at it like a journey over the next 25 days and savor every sip of hot cocoa, frosted cookie, and lit up houses as you pass by. And when Christmas morning comes, soak in the time with your family and friends and think about what Christmas really means to you. I think this video says it all 🙂

How do you prepare for Christmas? Let us know in the comments!

It’s Totally Ok!

It’s Totally Ok to..

This week I decided to do a little something different.  These are 20 of the things that I think are totally ok to do.  Hopefully you guys think so too!

  1. aa1ed9d87f4aa927735c9675e66a2657Eat a spoonful of peanut butter and Nutella if you want.  It’s so delicious, and I refuse to ever regret it.
  2. Wear sweat pants at  home alllll day, but NOT every day. Buttoning a pair of jeans takes a half a second and you will instantly look ready to take on the world!
  3. Eat dessert as a meal.
  4. Sneak snacks into a movie theater at least once! I mean everyone does it right?
  5. Say you’re going to make something on Pinterest and then never do. I’m definitely guilty of this.
  6. Go shopping with a budget and completely going over it. The dress and shoes couldn’t be worn without each other.
  7. Buy things on sale even if you don’t need it. It’s such a great deal; how can you pass it up!
  8. heelWear high heels if you’re tall. I can’t really relate to this, but I have some tall friends who have been told they shouldn’t and I definitely disagree. Embrace the tall!
  9. Buy another gaming system. So what if you already have 3.
  10. Wait in line for hours to be the one of the first to have the latest and greatest of anything. After all, you’re an innovator and need to be the first to have it.
  11. To say you’ve exercised even if you just walked to your car and back. Or counting the “lifting” you do at work as exercise.
  12. Cancel plans to watch the latest season of your favorite show on Netflix.
  13. If you still watch cartoons. Phineas and Ferb are awesome!
  14. Have more hats than you could ever wear. There are just so many different kinds and teams.
  15. Swear like a sailor at a hockey game or any game really. Unless, there’s kids.
  16. customeDisagree with people. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind.
  17. Buy the ridiculously over-priced item you’ve been eyeing up. Just buy it already.  You’ll regret it more if you don’t.
  18. Start making your Halloween costume months in advance. You might forget if you don’t.
  19. Never throw away your favorite pair of jeans, even if they don’t fit anymore or have holes all over. There’s just so many great memories attached to them.
  20. Take the elevator even if you’re only going a floor up. After a long day walking up stairs just sometimes isn’t something I want to do.

I hope guys enjoyed my random list.  What do you guys do that you think is totally ok?   Comment below!

Delay the Real World, Take a Gap Year. Or Two.

If you’re anything like me you probably spent the month before graduation and the few following having a quarter life crisis. After I sat through my college graduation ceremony, I suddenly had a realization, I had a plan that would bring me through December, and then absolutely no idea what I was doing with my life. So, I did what every recent college graduate would do, I freaked out!

In March, I accepted a four-month internship in Ireland, and I was beyond excited. Yet, after graduation I wasn’t sure if my non-traditional path was a good idea. I was convinced that everyone around me had entry-level jobs secured and surely this meant they would be more successful in life than I would. If I didn’t take a full-time position at a Public Relations agency would I ever be able to break into a career I eventually wanted?

Well, after two or three months of constantly going over the  positives and negatives of accepting a short-term internship I decided it was the best thing I could do with my life. While there are many drawbacks to choosing a non-traditional path and often it’s financially impossible to fund an unpaid internship abroad, I’m going to lay out a few positives that outweigh any negative.

First, choosing to put off graduate school or applying for entry-level positions in order to travel will make you a smarter person. The moment I get into Dublin I’m going to have to hit the ground running. My flight comes in early in the morning and instead of catching some shut-eye I’m going to have to get myself to my hostel, take a quick shower and head over to my first day at the office. After that I’m going to have to start setting up meetings to try to find an apartment. I will be thrown into the mix from the moment I get to Dublin, and I will have to learn quickly how to think on my feet and provide for myself. I have no doubt there will be some moments of complete panic, but the experience will teach me to think critically and problem-solve. There are few things that will push a person outside of his or her comfort zone, but when you find something that does, it will completely change the way you process information and work through problems. Add that to your skill list!

o'connell streetAlso, if you take some time to travel after graduation you will learn how to interact with people better. Let me tell you, it’s terrifying to think about flying over 3,500 miles by myself to a city where I know virtually no one, but it’s also a little exhilarating. So, I made a promise to myself for my time in Ireland, which is to say yes to everything. Instead of assuming a person is inviting me to the pub or an event just to be nice, I’m going to take him or her up on the offer. Maybe the hours spent with the people who invite me out will be terrible and completely awkward, but maybe they will be some of the best memories of my trip. I plan to meet people I would never consider hanging out with back home. This means I will learn how to relate to a diverse set of people, which can only serve to help me in both my personal and professional life.

Lastly, if the other reasons don’t convince you, just think about how great something like a gap-year job or a short unpaid international internship will look on your résumé. Studying abroad is great and something I would urge everyone to do, but it’s so common now that employers don’t necessarily see it as something unique that places one candidate above another. Instead think about how you could say you didn’t only go abroad, you learned how to work with people from different cultures in a professional work environment. I don’t think it’s the wisest idea to do something simply because of how it looks on paper but I’m willing to use any argument to convince someone to travel and work abroad. So, if this is the only reason that will make you consider booking that plane ticket, I’ll use it.

I have a million other reasons to argue but I don’t have the time and I don’t want to take any more of yours. I’ll leave it there and let you decide additional reasons for yourself. And I’ll be honest, I will most likely come back from Europe without much money in my bank account, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I won’t come back with many, if any, regrets. I think it’s more likely that I’ll be planning my next trip abroad!

Try Something New


leave-your-fears-behindF.jpg.As humans we are creatures of habit.  We like routine and in most cases aim to avoid uncertainty because it tends to make us uncomfortable.

Now humor me for just a moment:  think of that one thing you’ve always wanted to try but never taken any steps toward it.  Maybe it’s traveling, learning a new language, paying it forward  with your morning coffee, asking for that person’s number, greeting a cashier by name, writing a short story, cooking a new food, going back to school, applying for your dream job even though you’re under-qualified, networking—you know what I mean. Anything that you have a desire to do but are afraid because you’ve never done it before.

Most recently, my “thing” was strength training.  I’ve never lifted weights seriously before and it’s something I’ve always wanted to try because I’ve heard about all the benefits.  However, walking into the weight room can be intimidating for a woman who has absolutely no experience.  So I sought out an option that I did feel comfortable with—a strength training class. And so one day I just bit the bullet and tried it out.  The instructor was helpful and encouraging, the music rocked, and I was mostly surrounded by other women.  And just like I had tried something new. And I came out alive. The ironic thing is I asked myself why I had waited so long–I should have started this a long time ago!

So maybe that helped you think of something that you have been wanting to try as well and now that you have your idea of “that thing” you’ll need to do something about it. Guess what doing something about it doesn’t even have to be that hard!

4 Steps to Getting Startedpartner-strengthF

1. You can ask a friend or partner to take on this new task with you so you have someone to keep you accountable.

2. Set some kind of deadline for yourself and stick to it. Put in on your calendar if that’s what it takes.

3. Muster up the courage and put your pride aside.

4. …next thing you know you did it!

So why should we try out these things?

1. You can cross it off your bucket list–doesn’t that always feel good?

2. It will build your self-confidence and self-esteem. Let’s face it, we will take any extra help we can get as we emerge as twentysomethings who are trying to figure our lives out one day a time.  Sometimes that extra boost can change your whole day.

3. Because you are brave and beautiful and you really can do anything you set your mind to.  (As cheesy as that is, it’s true, and you know it.)
So get out there and take a chance!
-EmilycourageF.jpg.

How To Deal With Terrible Bosses: For the twenty-somethings

hbos3At one point or another, we are all going to have to endure the horrible boss. And, it gets worse as we get older – or so it seems. They may be the cliché manager we read about or may vary from one end of the spectrum to the other. And now, it has happened to you. Welcome to the world of those superior to you who like to snack on small children while they dream. (I hope that was funny) It’s especially difficult when you’re an early twenty-something trying to make extra cash so that you can pay for those expensive college loans. (or any other early adult payments . . . oh joy.) When you are just starting out in the world, trying your very best to make ends meet, the nightmare from retail knows how to make it that much more discouraging. From obnoxious, pretentious, selfish, egotistical, weird . . . to downright rude – it happens. Dealing with a horrible boss isn’t easy, and sometimes, it’s overwhelming. But, with my following tips, being in the presence of the dragon lady (or man) will no longer be torturous and will also be less stressful. Good luck, young ones!

1. Do not give them satisfaction:

And I repeat, do NOT give them the satisfaction. It’s hard, I know. The first thing you want to do once you’ve had enough, is cry, scream, throw a fit (yes, I have wanted to do these things), curse at your boss or goodness gracious . . . walk out. But you have to remain calm. Remember – your evil boss most likely wants to see you suffer, and when they see that you are, they find satisfaction knowing that life is sucking for you – in the end giving them that horrid power. When they see you upset, they feed off of it and have more ammo to shoot back at you when you mess up. Cover up that frown – again, I know it’s hard – and get through the day the best you can not showing them you’re bothered.

2. Listen to upbeat music before your shift:

musicThere is nothing better than dancing to your favorite song, but it’s even better when you listen to it before work – because it is a confidence booster. People who have to deal with working in a hell hole can certainly understand this. Nothing can bring you down! Not even your witch of a boss! So go at. Turn up that Lady Gaga song and dance in front of your mirror like nobody is watching. Another great thing about this is it gets your endorphins going, which puts you in a good mood. Dance party before the 12 pm-8 pm shift! You’re going to need it.

3. Compliment your boss . . . without being a total kiss-ass

Your boss is probably under the impression that you hate them, because well, they treat you like the peasant that they think you are. This most likely gives them that satisfaction – knowing that you are under their control, emotionally. Pshh, don’t let that bother you. You know the saying “Kill them with kindness.” When they least expect it, compliment them. But, you want to make it seem natural, so that you don’t look like you’re being a smart-ass or even worse – a brown nosing kiss ass. Nobody likes the employee that sucks up to their boss. So, instead, compliment her outfit. Put a big smile on your face and tell her she looks “really pretty”, but then move on. If you keep trying to compliment her for over five minutes, she’s going to get the hint and end up being irritated. Just be cool. She won’t expect it, and she’ll be very surprised. Oh, the satisfaction for you.

4. Realize The Bigger Picture:

You have to remember that even though you are finally out of high school, into college and in the real world, you are still so very young yet and this is not going to last forever. You’re an intelligent, creative woman with goals like anyone else. You have great ideas, as well as a great personality that you try to contribute. When you’re working at a fast food restaurant, or a high class, snobby retail store that is way beyond your budget, you have to keep in mind that you are better than that. I’m not saying you should belittle these places that you are working at, but if they make you unhappy or are not for you, then they will not last. This is just the beginning endeavor to your life, and you are capable of so many wonderfully amazing things. This is just the beginning. Even though it’s hard to hear, we do have to do things that we do not always want to do just in order to finally achieve our goals in the end. Try and keep that positive note in mind, and work will not be so bad after all.

5. Do Not Take It Personally:

AnnYour boss may be intimidating. It happens. They might yell at you for not folding the shirts a certain way, moving “way too slow” in the kitchen, or anything else they can pin-point. Your first assumption is that they hate you. Again, as difficult as it may seem, you have to remember not to take things too literally. Your boss acts they way they do for a few reasons – and note that these are just my own personal opinions: They’re having a bad day . . .or a lot of bad days, they have self esteem issues and like to take it out on you, they may feel threatened by you (yes, it can happen) and the plain and simple one -that’s just their personality. You can’t change how your boss is, you just have to accept it and acknowledge the fact that you have to move on. You’re there to work, not win their approval and be their best friend – and that is okay.

6.Vent:

It’s honestly a wonderful feeling. There’s not much to say about this one except that it is self explanatory. 🙂 And not just verbal venting either. Do this: Pretend you are writing a long letter to your boss. Say everything that you have ever wanted to say to them, that you (of course) could never say to their faces. I’ve done it, and it does wonders! Happy writing!  ❤

7. And finally, with lucky number 7 . . . Breathe.

relaxI’ve been told by lots of people that breathing does wonders. I’m usually a very anxious person, so sometimes I forget to breathe and tell myself that everything is going to be okay. Usually, my boyfriend has to remind me of these things. When you breathe, it slows down your blood flow, and ultimately relaxes you. Yes, this tip is obvious and kind of lame, but ladies, it’s the truth. When you breathe, you’re relaxed. When you’re relaxed, you become more happy and calm. Work can be a stressful place and breathing is a reminder that everything is going to be okay. This might be a tough spot for you right now, dealing with mean, grouchy bosses, running around doing work errands, meeting expectations that seems to tire you, and spending hours wondering what the heck you are doing with your life. Just keep this in mind: you are a fabulous human being that can over come anything, even a crazy boss and a long shift. 😉

– Jules

Living Simply

Simply.MM

There is one week left to go before I complete my year of service with AmeriCorps through the St. Joseph Worker Program.  I’ve have had many new learning experiences this year, but the concept of living simply and sustainably will undoubtedly stick with me as I leave the program.  Here a few of my big take aways:

The Farmer’s Market–not just for Saturday morning!  FarmersMarketMM

If you haven’t already, check out one of your local farmer’s markets.  This is the place to buy relatively inexpensive produce along with many other tasty treats, including my all-time, cheese.  Not only are the fruits and vegetables typically cheaper than the grocery store, but you know exactly where they came from.  You can ask the vendor specific questions about how they grow and harvest their produce.  And if you find yourself wondering, “what can I make with this?” I’m sure the vendor would be happy to suggest how to cook your new veggies or a recipe to try.  Saturdays are usually the busiest days at the Farmer’s Market, so if you wish to avoid the rush, check out another smaller location during the week.  So get outdoors to the Farmer’s Market and bring your reusable bag, too!

BikeMMAlternative Transportation–bicycling, buses, walking–oh my!  Last August I found out I would need to travel 7 miles one way to my workplace from home and I did not have consistent access to a car.  I was left with two options: bus or bike.  The bus takes approximately 45 minutes; I knew I would need to do this is in the winter, but in fall and spring, I opted to ride my bike for a total roundtrip of around 15 miles.  I invested in a rear bike rack and pannier bag (maybe $50 all together) where I could fit my lunch and a change of clothes.  Riding my bike early in the morning allowed me to see a beautiful sunrise and it was a nice way to decompress after work. If you live in a bike-friendly city, I cannot recommend biking enough.  The bus is great, too, because it’s inexpensive and you never have to work about finding a parking spot. Try changing up your transportation and see how it might impact your day in a positive way!

Bulk.MMBuying in Bulk–and I’m not talking about Sam’s Club.  Our program directors encouraged us to buy certain things in bulk because it would save us money in the long run.  If you live near a Co-Op and are not familiar with how it works, I suggest asking for a tour and how to go about buying things in bulk.  Most Co-Ops sell things like flour, sugar, coffee, grains, olive oil, nuts, spices, soap, eggs, etc. in bulk.  Just bring an empty tupperware or canister and fill up on the goodness.  They have scales available and don’t be afraid to ask questions.  You’ll end up saving money and reduce waste from using less packaging. And when I saw that my local Co-Op in Minneapolis was selling cranberries from my hometown in small central Wisconsin, how could I not support them?!

There are many other ways to live more simply, but these are just a few that I have found to be consistently doable for myself.  In what ways do you try to live simply? Leave a comment and let us know!

Emily Elizabeth

How To Fight off Wanderlust Blues

This little town with its “small town” feel may not have been where you decided to plant yourself. You can thank your parents for that one. After childhood melted away, and you entered the teenage years, you probably started aching to detach yourself from your hometown, and go off and experience something new, bold, and exciting. Like myself, you are in the prime of your life. It’s time for something different and refreshing, a new chapter desperately needs to be written.

I’m going off to UW-Whitewater this fall and I am elated to finally be leaving Watertown—the place that I have been residing in for two decades. At age seventeen, I was bit by the “wanderlust bug”, making it difficult to settle for Watertown for just a few more years. Now, at twenty years old, I have realized that you might as well make your wait worth while. For some of you ladies reading this, it might be your summer before leaving the nest, and you are going through the same stages like myself or perhaps you had to return home for a while. Below is a list of exciting things that I have conjured up to do in your small town to hold you over until you reach what you have been craving. So go forth, girls. Paint your small town in your favorite color . . . it’s going to be a couple months.

  1. Find excitement in your town.
    (Obvious, but it’s good to establish that one.)
  2. Check out the local movie theater.
    Sometimes small movie theaters have a more homey atmosphere, and even though you’re trying to ditch the “small town” setting, it’s nice to get some “quality me time” with yourself and going out to see a cute indie film is just the way to do it. Who knows, maybe the main character of the movie is in the same situation as you and you can learn a thing or two from her.
  3. Go on a picnic with a group of friends.
    Who doesn’t like spending the summer’s day out with your group of girls. Fix up some yummy dishes, or look online for some creative (and healthy!) recipes.
  4. Skinning dipping at midnight.
    Cliché but worth it. Self Explanatory . . . especially if it’s not your first time (;
  5. Explore Your Town Thoroughly.
    Did you actually check out what your town has on it’s main street? Or did you underestimate it due to it’s size? You can find some interesting little shops. Are there antique stores buried in there? What about record stores, arts and crafts shops? Small towns are known for their hospitality and you could make it work with your “big city dreams.” It could be cute. 🙂
  6. Simple and Sweet:
    Grab your ipod and take a stroll through town. It’s healthy, good exercise and you can pretend that you’re in a music video, conquering your small town and ready to take over the world. It’s also a great pick me up that’s free, and a confidence booster. Hey, have a friend video tape it with the actual music in the background. Look out world, (insert name here) is on the way!
  7. Do some history on your town.
    It might make you appreciate it a little bit better and you might even find some interesting things that you can brag about to people that you meet in the future. (ex: “My hometown had the first alien landing. . .” you get the idea.)
  8. Spend time with your family.
    You’re going to be leaving them for college soon, so it’s good to get reconnected with them.
  9. d25cf225fa1202c97b956d482bf8aed6Take a bike ride.
    And look cute doing it.
  10. Camping trip in your backyard!
    How doesn’t this NOT sound fun!? Rally some friends up, pitch a tent . . . or even better, sleep underneath the stars, share some high school stories, (Ahh, the memories) munch on some snacks and reminisce before leaving once the summer is over.
  11. Make a summer reading list.
    Make it a goal to read all the books you have wanted to. There’s a WHOLE world of books out there that you just haven’t discovered yet. Make it your mission to try a genre that you wouldn’t expect to read. You might surprise yourself . . . plus, reading is a great way to escape the world, sometimes. 🙂
  12. Outdoor movie screenings.
  13. And finally. . . Think about college.
    Get things going. Did you go to Orientation? Have you found out who your new room-mate is? Did you get your schedule. All of these exciting things will hold you over until it actually happens. Planning for the new college year is beyond thrilling, and it will give you hope that just around the corner (summer, of course) there is a new chapter in your young life waiting to be written.

Meet the Author: Jules

10374032_10204034737697673_5598003358406081213_nBorn and raised in the small town of Watertown, WI, Julia Renee Busshardt- who likes to go by the nickname, Jules- is a twenty year old English Major who spent her first year of college at UW- Waukesha, and is transferring to UW-Whitewater. There, she will continue to study English, minor in film, with an emphasis in creative writing. Along side her infinite passion for writing- and day dreaming- Julia also enjoys ballet, tap and jazz, anything vintage, Portlandia, spending the day in the bookstore, drinking LOTS of coffee while enjoying conversations about life, meeting new people, going to concerts and . . . is a total movie junkie. A few of her favorite movies include Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Juno, and (500) Days of Summer. She’s also passionate about music. Her favorite bands include Foster The People, Best Coast and Death Cab For Cutie. Julia hopes to become a Creative Writing Professor, alongside with being an author. Extremely open minded and down to earth, Julia’s biggest goals are to inspire people and prove that having quirks is an okay thing that everyone should embrace.

A Negative Nancy’s New View

Be Nice. We have – undoubtedly – all heard these words, but are we really integrating this into our every day, every hour/minute/moment lives? I will be honest; I have not – but I am really trying. When someone is rude, unapologetically late, or plainly unpleasant, it is sooo difficult to “be nice”. Our patience is tried and tried again, our attitude falters, and no matter how many times someone can tell you, “Don’t let it ruin your day,” it definitely may have dented it.

As a former debate team member and, later, mentor, I thrived on the “Negative” side of things. I loved being a pessimist among my friends, and, in retrospect, it was as though I was always fighting for the title of “Ultimate Debbie Downer”. On the Negative side, or what I viewed as the ‘realistic’ side, we would attempt to crush the Affirmative Team’s plan of action. This can easily be applied to everyday life: your partner wants you to change your evening routine, your co-worker wants to change the way you do paperwork, and your supervisor wants you to take on just one more client/project/report. But you don’t want to do those things, and therefore you are going to find reasons why it just isn’t going to work out.

Image                But, what is sometimes hard to realize is that their side – which is sometimes brighter and more optimistic – is also a realistic side and we should totally adopt it and go with it. You change your evening routine to spend more time with your partner, the new paperwork cuts the time to write a certain report in half, the new client/project/report is a huge boost to your portfolio and you grow to be passionate about it. Whatever it may be, it is not so bad living on the Affirmative Side.

What am I really getting to? Recently, I realized that my way of thinking has radically changed. I have been described recently by co-workers as “extremely optimistic” – probably too optimistic in some situations. Now, I’ve realized that, instead of seeing a person walk down the street and thinking, “Oh my god, how could they have worn that?”, I find myself thinking, “I really like her/their/his _____________”. I think that this brighter, more optimistic way of thinking has really come to reflect on the rest of my states of being – i.e. emotional, mental, physical, etc. I wake up and look forward to the day, to the people I will see (and hopefully help), and the things I will do with and for others.

Obviously, this all can’t just stay in my mind because I want others to feel good about themselves and I want to have a good impact on their day, rather than denting it. I’ve been putting in a genuine effort to Be Nice, in whatever way that looks like. ImageActively giving back to others, telling strangers that they have great hair/smile/shirt, giving that friend an extra “like” on the picture (selfie – let’s be real)/status they posted earlier that day, leaving enough money for a coffee for the person next in line, and going through and donating those clothes that you do-not-wear-and-probably-do-not-fit-into just to make someone else’s day better will also make your day better.

                This sounds so simple, I totally know. It is elementary level in terms of new knowledge, but I (and you probably) still see people continuing their Negative Nancy/Debbie Downer ways. Make it a goal to engage those people, to make them smile or even laugh, and, believe me, you will feel great and hopefully they will too. I see this so frequently working in human/social services; people are upset and pissed off to be involved in services they do not think they need or want, and the least I can do in my job is to try to make my appointment with them a pleasure so they can look forward to the next one.

                So, my friends, be actively nice to others, so that you may brighten their day and they may brighten yours. 🙂

 

Thank you for reading!
Elizabeth M.