Reminiscing Once More

31 12 2016

Here we are, sitting on the cusp of another new year. I’m not going to lie, I’m a little surprised we made it.

howIfeelabout2016

Whew, we made it. That was a rough one, girlfriend.

It’s weird to sit back and think over the last year. Partly because I haven’t had much time to sit back and think at all over the last 12 months. But being New Year’s Eve, I feel ok about allowing myself these few minutes of nostalgia….

This time last year, I was overflowing with all the feels – I had diamonds on my left hand that I couldn’t stop staring at while I shimmied into my gold dress to ring in the new year in the city square in Granada, Spain. We ate grapes and cheered and sang and kissed under the grand lights and I felt like this was going to be such a great year!!!

NewYears2016GranadaSpain

So optimistically happy ❤

And a lot of really amazing things did happen this year. Since my social media is full of lists of all the crappy things that happened in 2016, I’m not going to add my own. The future is unknown, and right now a little uncertain and scary, so I’m going to ruminate on the positive.

  1. I came home from an incredible adventure in Spain, engaged to my handsome beau
  2. Grad school did not kill me, and instead I graduated
  3. After lots of anxiety and applications, I landed my first teaching position
  4. During the first week of said teaching position, our 2 families gathered together and I married that handsome beau and made him mine
  5. I turned 32, and felt ok about it
  6. Teaching proved to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I made it the first trimester
  7. We bailed ship as soon as school let out and celebrated…well everything, on a delayed honeymoon in Costa Rica

And here we are! J and I are still unpacking and resettling after our adventures. We talk a lot about the coming months, years, but right now, its nice to celebrate the happiness we have right here right now.

Happy New Year!

honeymooninCostaRica





Celebrating milestones

24 06 2016

Omg yall, I didn’t do anything yesterday. I stayed in my PJs and puttered around the house and did very little productive tasks. Ok, I did a little laundry and I bathed my wedding dress and I worked on stuff….but in the grand scheme of things, I did NOTHING!!

I’m not just bragging about being a total bum for an entire day, this actually has significance. I didn’t do anything yesterday because I didn’t have to do anything. For the first time in 14 months, there are no deadlines looming, no papers or projects or presentations awaiting completion. No articles or chapters are smuggly waiting their turn to be read and highlighted.

I HAVE FINISHED GRAD SCHOOL AND HAVE NOTHING TO DO!!!!!!! I just need a minute to relish this moment…..

image

If you ever have to do something difficult, make sure you do it with amazing people. It helps.

….because of course, that’s not actually true. I have lots and lots and LOTS to do.

For example, I have a wedding in two and half months that needs to be planned. My wedding. Like I haven’t even mailed out the invitations yet.

I also have a job! A professor asked me to come back and work for the program my cohort participated in last summer as part of one of our classes. But whereas last year I had to pay the university, this year they pay me! I get to be on the planning side this time, mentoring the new grad students and acting as lead teacher for the program. It’s only for about a month and a half, but I get PAID. I will collect a paycheck and have INCOME! Maybe I’ll even put a smidge of that money back on my crippling student loans!!

Speaking of jobs, I actually got another one of those money-making things, but like FOR REAL. Like a real real job, like a teaching job to begin my career with the degree I just got. I’M A REAL TEACHER YALL. September 7th, I will welcome my first class of 5th graders. I’ve already started attending professisonal development days with my district AND I HAVEN’T EVEN SIGNED THE CONTRACT YET. To say I’m excited would be like saying an atom is small. However, it’s all a bit overwhelming and stressful at the same time. So much to think about, and set up, and figure out. But it’s all perfect.

So, obviously I have things to do. Like a lot. But it’s different – the crushing weight of grad school has lifted and the light of employment is shining down. I’m planning the weekend when I get to marry the man of my dreams and wear the fanciest dress ever. I’m hoarding supplies and books and plans for my first classroom and pouring over my curriculum materials. It’s all so scary and magical and stressful and thrilling.

Also, in case you missed it, I FINISHED GRAD SCHOOL!!!!

🙂





Lessons Learned from Grad School

23 06 2015

Unbelievable. I have finished my first semester as a grad student. Wooooo!

Despite the fact that this was a summer session that clocked a super-short 6 weeks, I have to admit something: I feel vastly more smart than I did 6 weeks ago. I mean, SO SMART. And since I’m so smart now, I thought I would tell you a few things I’ve learned in my transition to brilliance. Feel free to take notes, I don’t mind.

1) I don’t know nearly as much as I thought I did about teaching or education in general. Like, nothing.

2) My brain really can function on only 4 hours of sleep.

3) My body will cease to function if I attempt #2 twice in a row.

4) The brain is a marvelous contraption. For instance, it can dig deep and pump out some impressively well-thought-out, thoroughly researched, high-quality pieces of work, while running exclusively on caffeine.

5) Caffeine really is an alternative fuel source. (“Addiction” is such a strong word…)

6) I have found a new love. His name is espresso and we’re going to live happily ever after.

7) Speaking of addiction, I need a support group for my new-found drugs: the crafty aisle at Goodwill and clearance stickers at Michael’s. I have at least a year before I start teaching elementary, but I’ve already started hoarding glitter glue sticks and packages of fancy paper, funky scissors and smelly-good markers, emoji stickers and random bags of string. You just NEVER KNOW when these things will come in handy!!

8) It takes no time at all to slip back into the diet that helped keep my girlish figure through my undergrad; the diet most commonly known as the “broke college kid” diet. Suddenly having no income besides my outrageous student loans sent me immediately back to this diet and the ramen aisle at the grocery store. Sad day. (My girlish figure of my undergrad days has not yet been located…)

9) Back to the amazing capacities of the brain: let’s talk about the wonders of skimming. The ability to cover 12 chapters that are due tomorrow. Totally possible! (And yes, caffeine may be at work here, as well.)

10) Will power is truly tested by the Procrastination Monkey that tries to distract me from my priorities. Pros: I’ve started running again! And I’ve learned to skim, and bust through the procrastination barriers, and git ‘er done when I need to! Cons: Netflix withdrawals are real, and they are painful.

11) I have no idea how to cook for one person. I either have enough food for the neighborhood or nothing and I eat crap. I really need to figure this out.

12) Spending 9 1/2 hours in class with 9 other people, even just twice a week, can in fact make you fast friends with these people very quickly. All 9 of my fellow cohort-ians already know more about me than many people I’ve know for years. (Just ask Tim about my spirit animal…)

13) Grad school is the greatest decision I could have made, and the timing was absolutely perfect. My fellow classmates of my cohort are all amazing people that I am so excited to be with for this journey. From Day 1 (ok, maybe Day 2 after I recovered from the overwhelming shock of Day 1), I have felt the excitement grow, and I am so relieved and grateful to have my decision validated. This is exactly what I should be doing.

And now I have to get back to my reading! Today was the first day of the second summer semester, and there’s no room for slacking. This time next year, I’ll be all done – gotta keep on chuggin’!

PS: For any of you parents out there – if your children have teachers even half as dedicated as those that I’ve met, your child will be one lucky student. 😀  





Being Grateful for Chaos

24 04 2015

There is no passion to be found in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living. -Nelson Mandela

It all started January of 2014. We were crossing the threshold into a brand new year, and I took stock of my life. I had the necessities: good job, roof over my head, plenty of food, loyal dog, handsome man.

As good as things were, life was not quite where I needed it to be. Mostly, working remotely was no longer working well for me, and I decided it was time for a little change.

Sadly, I’ve never been good at “little” change. Instead of rearranging the place settings on my table, I grabbed the edge, really put my back into it, and flipped the whole damn table over.

table-flip of my life, chasing dreams

The table symbolizes my life.

After tons of research, nights of pondering my options, conversation after rambling conversation with J, and a notebook full of discarded ideas, I emerged with a game plan.

Even at the end of my twenties, soul searching to figure out what I want to be when I grow up, what I want to do with my life, is a scary, complicated, maddening task. How do we ever know where to find the answers to the big scary LIFE questions?? And once we make a decision, how on God’s green earth do we know it’s the right one?!

We don’t. We pick a dream and we chase it. We take the leap to pursue our passions. We can always adjust the course along the way, but the dream is the important compass that keeps us going.

Right? I’m pretty sure I read that on a pillow once. But this is what I’m doing. Dream chasing.

So, I talked to an adviser last spring, and almost 9 months later, requirements finally met, I mailed in my application for the Master’s in Teaching graduate program at Washington State University.

A slew of tests, sleepless nights, and freak-outs later, I finally received my acceptance letter — WOOOO! But the happy dance didn’t last long…too much to do! That letter came at the end of March, and the first day of class is May 11. My to-do list still stretches about 5 miles long and I wish I had a device to measure my emotional mood swings like a seismometer measures earth quakes.

In three short weeks, nothing will be the same as it is today. I will have moved out of my house with J to a new house in Vancouver, WA – a city I know almost nothing about. I’ll be living with two dudes I found on Craigslist instead of with my beau and my mutt. Each weekend, I’ll drive back to stay with J in a new house I’ve not yet even seen. My career at G5, where I’ve worked for 5 1/2 years will be over, and I’ll now be a part-time barista at a little local coffee shop. My first grad school classes will have begun.

What the hell have I done?

No, this is good, all these scary things are good. These massive life changes are all in pursuit of a main goal: to become an elementary teacher. See? That doesn’t sound so scary! All this stuff in the middle is just temporary, the stepping stones paving the path which I use to chase this dream. (Too bad a drunk, blind, inexperienced elf laid the stepping stones. Does the path really need to be this stressful?!)

Even though I know it’s temporary, I’m stressed about J and I’s impending geographic separation. He’s been my daily constant for 4 years – now I have to do without?? And what about my sweet little Simba, my furbaby, my constant companion? I only get to see him on weekends? So not fair! (Ok, not fair to me. But Simba will now become a Ranger Dog and get to hike with J all the time, instead of being cooped up in my room waiting for me to get home from class…)

And quitting my job – saying I was unprepared for that would be the understatement of the year. I thought I was ready, finally done with the place, done with the glass ceiling I’ve been smashed against for about 3 years now. Working remotely sounds awesome to those who don’t do it, but having no opportunities at all because you aren’t in the office – not awesome. But when the time came to break the news to my boss – the same boss I’ve worked under for 4 years now – I almost cried. Thank goodness the quality of Google Hangouts is not that great. My team is a tight-knit, well-oiled machine, and I have grown and learned so much with and from these guys, it’s almost impossible to think of moving on without them. Maybe they’ll all come to grad school with me?! I can only hope to find myself in a group with such talent, passion, and humble accomplishments sometime again.

Ok, now I’m going to cry again.

My friends and family have all been so encouraging and supportive – I really wouldn’t have made it this far without them. They have given me the courage to take the first steps, and then been there all along the way with advice, hugs, cards, Kleenex, high-fives, long phone conversations, and never-ending support. I wish I could find a bra that held me up as well as the amazing people I have in my life.

And J. My sweet J. I would never be here, hurtling myself head over heels after a dream I’ve hidden in the back of my heart for most of my life, if it weren’t for my J.  He reminds me why I’m doing all this, tells me it’ll all be worth it, and repeatedly encourages me with “You can do this”. (Even in the middle of the night, as I lie awake worrying.)

So yes, I am grateful for the chaos. I’m grateful for the brains and courage and ambition that have landed me in the delightful mess. Despite all I’ve made it through so far, I know this is only the beginning of the hard work, but I’ve made it past the first milestone, so I’m celebrating that. I did not settle for the life that was easy, but lacking in passion; good but not great.

Never settle for ordinary, friends, when we were created to be extraordinary.

 





Snow! Hurry, everyone outside!!

4 03 2014

I love when people get all huffy and self-righteous on FaceBook, griping about how much they hate when others post about such-and-such. Especially the weather. “Guess I’ll just check Facebook instead of looking out the window today, since every friend I have is posting pictures of their car’s temperature reading!”

Two things: 1) be grateful you have friends at all and 2) take them out of your newsfeed if you don’t want to see their posts! I, for one, happen to love seeing all the posts about the weather. Yes, we all know I’m a big weirdo, but I also grew up in a ranching/farming family, where the weather was everything. Besides, I have friends and family all over the place, so it’s fun to me to see the snow from my friends in Bend the same day as a shot of sun and shorts from a buddy in Texas.

Isn’t life just grand?!

This winter has been completely nuts for the whole country. Winter was late coming for us here in the northwest, and every time it has snowed here at my house, the rain follows almost immediately and turns my beautiful snow to absolute muck. Yuck.

So when I climbed out of bed Sunday morning and saw the blanket of white with more still falling from the sky, I jumped up and down! Yay! Simba get dressed, let’s go outside!! We took a nice long walk in it – probably 3 inches already covered the ground – and Simba was his goofy, snow-loving self.

finally snow at Mt Adams Ranger District, WA

Yay for new snow!!

J had to spend the morning in town, but he promised we would play in it when he got back. And we did! We grabbed our cross country skis and headed up the road to a snow park for a little exercise.

By this time, the snow had been tumbling down all day without pause – deep, fresh powder on the ground! The snow plows had yet to make it out, so the roads were super sketchy, and J’s little Toyota got a little squirrelly. Man, it was the best kind of snow, too. The dry fluffy stuff that sticks but isn’t so heavy.

We finally made it to a snow park and marveled at the gorgeous forest under it’s new blanket. We zoomed off down the trail, sometimes finding tracks to follow, sometimes busting trail ourselves! Simba floundered around in the deep snow, his short legs not helping. Then he’d find a track and become THE FASTEST DOG IN THE WORLD! He’s just the best ever.

The snow was still coming down like crazy, and the deep freshies were a bit challenging at times, but dude, it was so good! There’s nothing like the forest under that much snow, and breathing the cold air with my boo right there and my mutt having so much fun he could hardly stand it – I just wanted to weep with happiness.

But I didn’t. Tears frozen to my face just sounds awful.

cross country skiing on Big Tree Loop, Trout Lake WA

My human favorite ❤

dog on the Big Tree Loop in new snow, Trout Lake WA

My furry favorite ❤

So I just focused on staying upright, keeping the snow out of my eyes, and having insane amounts of fun. We passed a coupled people near the beginning, but most of the time it was just us. I wanted the trail to last forever.

I think Simba did, too.

dog on the xc ski track, Big Tree Loop Trout Lake WA

“Hurry up, slow pokes!”

We got back to an empty  parking lot, save our truck. Simba was crusty with snow and ice and gladly loaded up.

dog with ice beard, Trout Lake WA

Ice beard!

Such a good time!

And now it’s all ruined. Sunday night and all day yesterday – rain, rain, rain. What’s left of my snow is now slush, and the roads were treacherous with ice this morning. Such a disappointment. This is why every time it snows now, I feel it completely necessary to go out IMMEDIATELY and play in it, roll in it, wallow around in it – make sure I let it know how much I love it and that it should stick around.

Because isn’t this kind of snow just the best?!

a foot of snow, Trout Lake WA 2014

This is our official trashcan/snow gauge – and this is how much snow we got just on Sunday!





BE MY FRIEND! (please?)

25 05 2013

Yall are going to be so proud of me! I’m being SOCIAL!!

Those who know me well were all pretty surprised when I moved to the middle of nowhere and switched to teleworking. That was two and a half years ago and I’m still at it! While most days the pros outweigh the cons, there is one little con that has the ability to get me down a bit: loneliness. I go days upon weeks without seeing another face besides JRock’s, especially in the winter.  Not that J doesn’t have a wonderful face that I’m quite fond of, but variety is the spice of life!!

This causes problems because I’m typically a very social person who thrives off human interaction. So when I finally do get to see people face-to-face, I freak out a little. Especially at first. I had finally started to be a normal person again, making friends with local girls and leaving the poor postman alone. Then we moved. Now I’m back to being lonely, not knowing another soul and having no one near me to make friends with (so I thought).

The toughest part was that we moved out here to Trout Lake in the middle of winter. Locals here tend to fly south for the winter if at all possible. Those that stay huddle up by the wood stove and hibernate (I should know, that’s what I did). Even though we live on the Forest Service compound with actual neighbors, the only thing that changed was I actually had to get dressed in the mornings so I could walk the pooch.

Spring has caused miraculous changes. Not only has nature come to life, so have the neighbors! We’re meeting (real) people, going to social functions, interacting with our fellow man – it’s fantastic. This last week, we REALLY out did ourselves.

Friday night we had dinner with J’s boss and his family. A couple other folks were in town and joined us. Then we hung out with several of those same people Saturday for some beverages, which turned into dinner and live music. Tuesday, we joined some local TL folks for volleyball down in the high school gym. Met some new people there (and am sporting some amazing bruises after 6 or so games of trying to keep up with high school girls…). And Wed, we went down to the Trout Lake Inn for a retirement party and met a ton MORE people!!

I really had a blast every single day. I realized, though, that I may not be…going about this in the right way. Is there a correct way to make friends? If there is, I might need some assistance.

My problem? I think I get a little over-excited. Not quite pushy, but very… insistent. I don’t ask people to be my friend, I just tell them it’s gonna happen.

“Hi! My name is Kalista. You seem pretty awesome. We have several things in common. Perfect: you’re my new friend! I’ll just need your phone number, address, email, mother’s maiden name, and social security number. Won’t this be FUN?!”

I got my hair cut on Saturday, and the girl I had my appointment with was amazing. I wanted her to be my new bestie. Forever. We chatted the whole time, while visions of us laughing together in matching sunglasses and capris with our dogs and boyfriends all having a picnic on the beach danced through my head. I was sad to go when she was done, and tipped her too much (although she did make me look like a supermodel). Can you bribe people to be friends with you?

But the wife of one of the guys J works with, who also happens to be a neighbor, is super nice and doesn’t seem to have been scared off. J and I plan to have their family over for dinner soon. And J’s boss is pretty awesome, also with a wonderful wife, and an invite will be going out to them as well. I’ve met two women with the Forest Service that I’m trying so hard not to terrify so we’ll all be best friends for ever and ever. I’m pretty sure it’ll happen. Summer is crazy for all the Forest Service folks, but I’m going to plan a bar-b-que or two and at least one game night. Maybe if I can show them how fun I can be despite the crazy, they’ll decide to be my friends anyway. Besides, bribing people with food is totally acceptable, I’m pretty sure.

I mean, look at this face – who WOULDN’T want to be my new best friend?!

Hi! You like nice!

Hi! You like nice!

Let's be best friends!

Let’s be best friends!

FOREVER!!

FOREVER!!





The Scariest Thing EVER.

5 04 2013

I’m terrified.

Not because of the month-long writer’s block.

Not because of the horrible nightmare I had last night where I cut bangs for myself with a rusty pair of scissors and they looked awful.

Not even because I had to go down to the haunted end of the compound multiple times last night to do my stupid laundry since I’m totally out of clean underwear. (I hate not having my own washer and dryer.)

Oh no, the Scariest Thing EVER goes way beyond all these. Hide the kids’ eyes, cover the dog’s ears, and brace yourself, people:
I have registered for a half marathon.

Happy Girl Dirty Half Marathon registration, Sisters OR

Sweet Jesus, what have I done?

There are many things that make this The Scariest Thing Ever.

  1. I haven’t run consistently enough to call myself a “runner” since middle school track. (I barely work out at all….and only occasionally. Do you think that matters?)
  2. I’ve never run farther than 6 miles at once in my whole life, and the one time I did was fueled by a messy break-up, the best playlist known to man (right before I lost all the music in my iTunes), and the promise of massive amounts of chocolate when I got home.
  3. The race is in November. I can barely commit to what we’re having for dinner tomorrow and I’m supposed to plan for this event 6 and a half months away?!
  4. My training buddies live 3+ hours away. That makes it difficult to run together, unless we all have tablets and Skype our runs. Which would be great – who wants to buy me a tablet?!

As you can see, I have reason to be as nervous as a baby in a shark tank. But damn it all, under all that crap I’m so stinking excited I can hardly contain myself. I’m gonna run a half marathon! That’s 13 miles!! The evening of November 2 (’cause let’s be honest, it’s going to take me all day) I get to check an item off my bucket list. Actually go through with something: check! Surviving hours of grueling continuous physical exertion also referred to as “running”: check check!! The anticipation of the high I’m going to have when I’ve accomplished this major goal is part of what’s keeping me motivated!

Plus, I’ll have company. Well, let me rephrase that: a group of gal pals will be with me at the starting line, and through all the horrors of training up until race day. Being seasoned athletes, I don’t expect to actually keep up with any of them, but the support and motivation they’ll offer pre-hell race day is what I’m stoked about. I don’t want to miss a training run because I hate admitting when I’m a slacker. I downloaded the Nike Running app to my phone so I can track my distance and all that other crap, and I just realized I can add the other ladies as my virtual training buddies. This is quadrupally important since I don’t actually live in the same state as any of them, so running together side-by-side is physically impossible. Except on my frequent visits to Bend, but you get the point.

I’ll try not to complain rave about my progress too much, but expect to hear updates throughout the summer!

So, in other news, I’ve been a bit absent lately. I can’t really tell you why, other than a busy schedule, feeling a bit under the weather (which often had me asleep before 9pm), and wicked writers block. But, for anyone who cares to catch up, here’s what’s been going on the last month or so:

  • My parental units and their foster baby (my little cupcake!!) flew half-way across the country for a week-long visitation. Long story short: we had a blasty blast, and I finally got my mommy fix. It had only been a year since I saw either of my rocking awesome parents. (How did I let that happen?!)
  • I forgot where I lived. Ok, not literally, but close. We’ve been gone every weekend, and then spent two weeks in Bend. Simba is one confused pup, but had so much fun with his bestie Osa, it was worth it. And he just adores going to work every day.
  • My friend hosted a murder mystery dinner party for her birthday, and I got to dress up as a Roman Vestial Virgin for the evening. And I wasn’t the killer. If you haven’t done one of these before, I highly recommend it!!
  • We hiked Dog Mountain, our first snow-free hike of the season. Simba thought the mountain was his and he conquered it in fine form. Me, not so much, but I didn’t die. We also hiked the historic Columbia Gorge highway on Easter. I’m trying to get my hiking legs back in shape, though all this running mumbo-jumbo will probably do that for me!

Ok, that’s it. I have to go – it’s Friday night and I have shananigans to get into!!

😀








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