Several Months Later

* Several Months Later *Several_Monthes_Later..._

I feel like I am living a Sponge Bob episode where time races forward and the next scene occurs months after the previous scene. AKA I have not written a blog post in several months and a lot has happened since my previous one.

A few months can change a lot of things. For example, my role as a student took its final bow and I received a college degree as proof. My role as job searcher ended, as well, and I accepted a post-grad job with great excitement. My role as Smurf-owner changed, because I bought a new {silver, not blue} car.

If you do not stop to take it all in, life goes by pretty fast. It feels like just yesterday I wrote a blog post about the anxiety I felt before entering college and here I am, * four years later * reflecting on the truth that I left it.

Screen Shot 2015-05-30 at 2.18.16 PM

Life goes on after college. That is one fact I had a hard time grasping throughout the last semester or two. It was difficult to imagine a world without homework, exams, group projects, and presentations. To be honest, it has been challenging to get out of the mindset that I start school in the fall. I’m relieved, of course, and very excited — still, it is bizarre to embrace the idea that I’m actually done. Eighteen years of school and *snap* – it’s over.

Life goes on — a truth, a revelation, a promise.

An adult. A real one. I am a full-fledged adult now, but I still feel {sometimes}
like I am 12. Maybe it is because I have not grown since my pre-teen years, or maybe it is because I do not feel “old” like I once thought adults should feel. Nevertheless, it’s official. I’m a college graduate and a new member of this much-talked-about place called, “the real world.” Ready or not, here I come.

In the beginning of the year, I chose three words to help guide me through the next 365 days: First, Risk, and Joy.

My oh my, how perfect those words have been to summarize the many joys, struggles, difficulties, and blessings I have experienced thus far this year. In just these seven months of 2015, I feel like I have been stretched in ways I did not anticipate. Stretched in patience, faith, love, and joy. Stretched in trust, work ethic, focus, and determination. Stretched, stretched, stretched — but stretched in ways that always pointed me towards focusing on the God who gives me strength.

Without firsts, without risks, and without joys, life is pretty dull. As a girl who usually loves routine and order, the idea of risking a comfort zone to try new things can be a true test of what I am made of.

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 10.42.51 PMI have a lot of adjusting and stretching to do. Obviously, I am not nearly as stretched as God wants me to be. Every day of life stretches you a little more towards Him. I’ve been stretching my identity to be more then just a piece of resume paper. My identity is more then the tasks I perform, the activities I participate in, and the motions of everyday life. My identity is through Christ, in Christ, alone.

A professor said to my class two weeks before the semester ended this past spring. He said to me, to us, “Stop thinking about what you want to do after college. Who do you want to be?” It struck me. Not because of the question, but because I realized how often I think about the things that need to be accomplished that I often forget to stop and really enjoy the moment.

The ironic part of this sort-of epiphany is how often I have blogged over the years about learning to find the little joys in every day life. It is a constant, life-long battle, and one that requires me to be constantly stretched and tested.

All I know is that I’m excited… and ready.

Another chapter has opened, full of new firsts, risks, and joys.

Let’s do this. IMG_1385

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The 3 Words: January and February Review

It’s been two months and five days since 2015 began.

To me, it seems like we rang in the new year yesterday… time flies! But, so far, so good!

Remember when I chose 3 words to focus on in 2015?

Well, like all ‘resolutions,’ keeping them requires time, energy, and evaluation. Here’s a review of how the progress is going…

First.

So far, there have been a lot of firsts. Professionally, I purchased my first stack of business cards from Vistaprint. They were very affordable and extremely easy to customize. But that’s not all! They arrived only a few short days after I ordered them, which made my day enough to take this picture. Another first this year was reading Gone GirlYes Please, and Bossypants. These three books were incredibly well-written, inspiring, and hard to put down– I definitely recommend them. {Check out the entire stack of winter session reads here.} I’m also pleased to announce I’m an official The Skimm Ambassador and a member of the Her Campus Blogger Network {hence the new ‘Networks’ tab on the right of this page}

There have been several personal firsts, as well. I won’t name them all {I know, I know– I’m a terrible person!}, but here are several I will share with you. For one, I had my last first day of school — ever! And, in typical Keri fashion, I found a throwback of my first day of school {pre-K} and created this collage to summarize 18 years of school. Time flies! It has also snowed {a lot} this winter. Actually, it is snowing as I type this– just another snowstorm to add to the list. This was the first snow sunset photo I took this year — winter sunsets take my breath away.

Risk.

Thankfully, physical risk has been nonexistent; although, there have been several times while driving on icy roads that I have been convinced otherwise. This entire semester will be one big, risky adventure, if only for the fact that people keep asking, “What’s next?” It is hard for me to answer this question sometimes, because the unknown is…well, unknown. My need to plan, plan, plan is going out the window, and it really has pushed me out of my comfort zone. However, as my word ‘joy’ will explain, risk is not always a bad thing. It can lead to…

Joy.

My need to plan is a silly one, because God’s plans are far better than mine will ever be. Every time I think I know what the plan is, He patiently reminds me that He has it all under control. His have {and always will} be better than I had ever imagined. From job searching to figuring out what the next chapter entails to everything in between, it is easy to dwell on the question, “What’s next?” It is easy to rush through the little moments of life, but those are the experiences memories are made of. Joy is in the perspective, and 2015 has been the year of God teaching me more about it.

So that’s a {general, brief} overview of the first two months of 2015! If this is foreshadowing to how the rest of the year is going to be, 2015 is going to be a whirlwind of {awesome, exciting} adventure.

How’s 2015 shaping up for you? Let me know by sending a tweet or commenting below!

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January: The month of eventuallys

Winter session is winding down. Having almost two months off school is both a blessing and a curse. If you keep busy, the weeks fly by and before you know it, you’re back on campus with a running start. However, if you don’t have plans lined up for the long winter months, seven weeks can feel like an eternity.

Thankfully, I learned my lesson freshman year and every winter session since then, I’ve chosen wisely and filled my time productively. {Freshman year winter session was crazy long!}

At the start of this much-needed break, I wrote out a list of things I wanted to accomplish before the spring semester began. I can’t have too much free time or else I’ll go completely insane and start creating lists {and Pinterest boards} for everything. I decided that when I wasn’t interning or working this winter, I would use my free time to tackle the list of “eventuallys.”

While creating the list back in December, I stuck to indoor tasks thinking snow would keep me stuck indoors. Obviously that hasn’t really been the case, but at least I was prepared! One might wonder what a “list of eventuallys” is; it is exactly that: a list of things I said I’d do, but never got around to. Some of the items were easy to accomplish, while others took some time to complete.

I proclaimed January the month of eventuallys and got to work. IMG_8855

I’m a huge reader… when I have time. During the semester, I don’t prioritize “fun reading,” because of homework assignments and school-related things. Lately, there have been several books I’ve wanted to read, including Yes Please by Amy Poehler, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and Bossypants by Tina Fey. Light reading, yes, but books I wanted to read nonetheless. I found Bossypants and Gone Girl at Goodwill for $1 each (no lie!), so those were no-brainers to buy. I received Yes Please for Christmas, so I was excited about that. Those are just three of the books I read this winter, but they’re all amazing and I highly recommend them.

IMG_8721Another “eventually” was to deep clean my entire computer, which consisted of erasing all unnecessary files, deleting duplicate pictures, organizing documents into folders and creating an extensive online writing portfolio (you can sneak a peak at a very similar one here). It amazed me how much space I was wasting just by saving random word documents from high school. I must’ve been a hoarder in my past life, because as much as I love to stay organized, I keep way too much unnecessary stuff– emails and word documents being two of them, apparently.

A few other items checked off are: create several versions of my resume, complete my LinkedIn profile, order business cards, revamp sections of my blog, apply to several big-girl jobs, finally watch the movie Grease, catch up on “How To Get Away With Murder,” meet with several professional mentors, guest blog for another blog, host a guest blogger, complete taxes (wooooo) and prepare social media plans for the spring semester.

I still have a week and a half left of winter session before life picks back up. I’m ready to get back into the swing of things. It’s been great to intern, work and organize my life, don’t get me wrong. However, I never thought I’d say this, but I’m ready for classes and exams again {am I insane?!}. Plus, this is my last semester of school ever {uh, what?!} so I’me excited to see what it will bring.

What about you? What types of items are on your list of eventuallys?

The Moment Is Now

August 8.

It is quite possible that a fast-forward button was added to my life, because honestly, I don’t really remember July.

It is such a blur– but a good blur.

I learned a lot in July. I grew a lot in July (figuratively and mentally speaking, not actually). Desk

Today marked the close of a chapter: the last day of my internship. I wrote about the lessons I’d learned  back in the beginning of July and they still hold true. The rest of the month raced by, one social media campaign at a time. I underestimated how much I’d love visualizing an idea and watching it slowly form into a reality. It really was a rewarding summer.

With a great experience behind me, it is hard to grasp the fact that the next chapter opening is senior year. I began this blog five years ago as an expressive escape to journey through my high school adventures and lessons the only way I knew how: through word.

Now, I’m here. Maybe not as faithful in blogging as I should be… but I’m here. I’ve learned a lot, experienced a lot, poured my heart out and looking back at the blog posts of my past, realize that you have travelled with me through each and every minuscule and monumental moment of my life (well, all the ones that I blogged about, that is).

VerseAs I reflect on where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’m heading, I realize that Psalm 33:18 speaks volumes of God’s grace and my lack of perfect understanding. It only seems appropriate that it was my “verse of the day” a few days ago.

Entering college, I worried about where I was headed. I knew God provided, but jumping in complete faith was never my forte. Continually, God has shown me grace and has answered my prayers in ways I couldn’t fathom. He sometimes shut doors that I had begged to open, but there was always something better awaiting. Or not…yet, anyways. And I learned to be okay with that, too.

The Lord really does watch over those who trust in Him. I’m not saying, by any means, that it’s easy. But man, God really is awesome if you stop and think about it.Agenda

Now granted, the control-freak tendencies sometime shine through. I do, and always will, love purchasing school supplies to help cope with the fact that another semester is beginning and another summer is ending. My agenda will always be my saving grace to save me from insanity. Isn’t it cute!? ———–>

CofeeBut, no one’s perfect!

I do have to admit that I really am thankful God created coffee. How else do you think I survive Mondays? Or Tuesdays? Or Wednesdays?

Yes, this summer has proved to be a great one. This summer, I learned more about myself. I developed and learned professional skills. I boosted my resume.

But, I also met genuine, down-to-earth encouraging people. I observed diverse personalities and made new friends. And all too soon, the weeks faded away. Today, as I left the building for the last time, it was bitter sweet. It was bitter because every closing chapter is, but it was sweet. Sweet because of the memories made, the skills learned, the people met. The next chapter opening, new adventures to be had, new experiences yet to be had.

As I inch closer and closer to that first day of senior year, I focus on the future. I do not know what is to come. A lot of unknowns, that is for sure. But, I’m ready for this next chapter. In whatever I am faced with, I am reminded of Esther 4:14.

Perhaps this is the moment I was created for.

Esther

The Top 5 Things You Won’t Learn In A Classroom

Five weeks in.

It is unbelievable to think how quickly time has flown when I stop and think about it. Five weeks ago, I started my ten week internship. I proudly hold the title of social media and marketing intern and I couldn’t be more ecstatic.

In any internship, the first day is always the hardest, simply for the fact that you have no idea what to expect. On that bright and sunny Monday morning, I was anxious, excited, nervous, ready. So many emotions overwhelmed my mind that when I walked through the doors for the first time, it was time.

It was time to do what I knew I could do. I was focused and determined to start working, eager to soak up everything I could, and ready to begin this long-awaited chapter in my public relations career.

Now, five weeks later, I’m half way there. With only five weeks under my belt, it’s  been the greatest five weeks. What a beginning! I’ve learned a lot and still have so much more to learn. Every day, it becomes increasingly evident that relying solely on textbooks and exams will not help you in the “real world.” Being A Great Intern 101 is not offered in the course catalog; it is with experience that you develop and enhance the skills necessary to succeed.

In only 25 days, I’ve learned many lessons through my own experience and observing others. I’ll spare you from all of that and instead give you…BWP_PRSSA-0063

The Top Five Things You Won’t Learn

In A Classroom:

1. Come early, stay late– It’s easy to want to leave the office as soon as your hours are up for the day. 40 hours a week is a lot of time to be in the office and as an intern, it can be a challenge not to count down the minutes until closing time. One of my mentors once told me, “To be a great intern, you have to go early and stay late. Do whatever you can do in the hours you are given, but go above and beyond when they don’t expect it.” Best advice ever. Going above and beyond is a skill that can’t be taught in a class room; it’s adapted through work ethic and determination. Come early, stay late– do whatever you can to go above and beyond the expected 8 hours a day. This doesn’t mean arriving two hours early and staying until midnight– even if it’s 15 minutes earlier and 20 minutes later, the drive is evident. People will notice, but more importantly, you give your 110%.

2. The interview doesn’t end when you get the job— Once you are hired, that’s not the end of it. Every day, I walk into the office with the goal of showing them that they made the right decision to hire me. I said the right things in the interview, but actions speak louder then words. Actions provide the backbone to the investment they made. Go above and beyond, ask questions, work hard, be proactive, show up on time– the works. It’s easy to want to let your guard down after a few days on the job, but their investment in you is just as important as your investment in them.

3. Keep your notebook with you 24/7— I write everything down. I’m a writer; I have to see my tasks on paper and check them off. I learn through visuals and remember ideas better when I see them physically written down. Walking around the office with a notebook helps me remember the little things. When I meet with my boss, I write down what he says. I write down daily to-do lists and week-long goals. I write down my ideas so I don’t forget them and also important reminders from emails and meetings. If you are a visual person, keep a notebook with you. It helps more than you think.

4. Walk around— Don’t be that intern who sits at his/her desk all day. Walk around; get to know people. I struggle with finding the perfect combination to receive a healthy balance, so I discovered a solution. Drink water from a water bottle. When I finish the water bottle, I go to get more water (duh) and on the way to the water cooler, I stop to say hi to whomever I pass. It helps! This little walk gives me a break from sitting in front of a computer, keeps me hydrated, and allows me to meet my fellow coworkers.

5. Conquer a fear– It could be anything from learning to write a professional email to stepping out of your comfort zone. For me, as ironic as this sounds, it was getting over my fear of talking on the phone. As a communications and public relations major, this should come second nature to me. But, I’ve always been a little self-conscious about calling people to ask for information or following up on a task. I’ve conquered it through past internships and during this one, I’ve conquered it some more. It gets easier and easier every day and for this, I’m glad. It wasn’t necessarily a fear, but it’s been a slight out-of-my-comfort-zone task that I’ve had to face time and time again. Big or small, a “fear” can hold you back from your fullest potential. Take the time as an intern to really try and overcome it. Don’t limit your capacity for success.

Five weeks down. Five more to go. At the half way point, I’ve learned way more than these five important tips. So far, I’ve not only strengthened my resume and learned a lot about the company, but I’ve also developed as an intern and a public relations professional. What are tips you’ve learned through your internship experiences? Comment below!

Let’s connect on Twitter: @KeriBetters

the joy of simplicity– midnight musings.

Currently, it’s twenty seven minutes past midnight.

It’s freezing.

Ice is on the ground.

Snow fell a little under twenty four hours ago. I can’t see the green grass. They’re covered with a thin blanket of white.

My first day of spring semester classes is behind me. I survived the first of many long days.

Sometimes, you have to be thankful for the small joys.

Like your car not skidding on black ice.

Or the fact that the Starbucks line was short today and I got my coffee in a matter of minutes.

In every day, there is always good. Although not every day will be good, it’s your attitude that makes the difference.

 

It’s the little moments that pass you by, the little moments that secretly disappear when you’re not looking, that make up the days.

Will your day be good?

Or will your day be bad?

Choose joy and keep choosing it.

It’s thirty minutes past midnight and although I don’t know what today will bring, I know that if I choose to look for them, 

there are good moments hiding from me,

waiting to be found.

We simply have to choose joy and keep choosing it.

The Dash: Part Two, surviving to live

This is Part Two of The Dash blog series. 

If you missed Part One, click here .

Conversation is encouraged for this blog series. Please feel free to share and comment your thoughts and opinions in the coming weeks as I dive more deeply into “The Dash.”  Share the blog link and use the Twitter hashtag: #thedashblogseries to invite others to join the conversation. 

If you have a question that hasn’t been listed, feel free to add it in a comment. 

If you’d rather send me an email, click here. 

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Everyone is passionate about something. 

Whether it’s sports, sleeping, pursuing a career, love, music, coffee, a person…

Everyone is passionate about something.

Throughout my life, I’ve wondered what I’m passionate about.

I’ve thought about it and written about it. I’ve prayed about it, talked about it, dreamed about it.

If everyone has a passion, what was mine?

It seems like a stupid question. If you’re passionate about something, it should be obvious to you what it is. To me, though, when it came right down to it, things that I would consider my passions all had one thing in common.

I realized that my passion is simply living.

Jesus. Living, breathing, memory-making, conversation. Joy, sadness, music, people. Coffee, school, laughter, writing, photography. The things that make up my every day.

Life. 

The thing about life is that no matter how long you have it and no matter how “fully” you’ve lived it, it never is long enough.

It’s become a social trend: How To Live Life To the Fullest. I’ve even had my share of attempts at answering the age-old question. Examples can be found here and here. With the bombardment of trying to make the best of your life and creating bucket lists of places we want to see before we die and things to do, things to experience…. we begin to feel overwhelmed with all the ways we could live life better. We begin to compare our lives to those around us. We begin to try and set goals to make ourselves better, happier, prettier so maybe, if those goals are successfully achieved, then life would be better, too.

Slowly but surely, we begin to drown in the “shoulda woulda coulda” instead of simply living.

We jokingly say “YOLO” (You Only Live Once) and we throw it around in conversation. Usually, people say it when they’re about to do something idiotic or stupid. “YOLO” has become a way of life. It’s become almost an excuse to do things that will help us “live life to the fullest.” But does it?

I think, when it all comes down to it, we’ve lost our passion for life, myself included. We take our days too seriously and we approach each situation with a critical eye, completely unaware that most of the time, we’re looking for the bad and assuming the worst. It almost has become a habit. We forget to look around us, “stopping to smell the roses” so to speak, and we rush through each day with a schedule and our minds running 1,000 miles per hour. We rush through every day, creating lists of things to do, people to see, things to experience. We rush, we rush, we rush…

We are too busy surviving to stop and simply live.

The day that I walked out of the cemetery*, I was overcome with emotion and started thinking more about this small horizontal line.

The Dash between the year of arrival and the year of passing is small. It doesn’t catch every moment you create in this life. It doesn’t even come close to summarizing the life of each individual. It simply is the length of time from when you were born to when you die. You only live once, so what volumes will your Dash speak?

The Dash may not capture every moment we have on Earth, but that doesn’t mean we should stop living.

As cliche as it sounds, each day is a gift. I don’t know when my Dash will end. I don’t know what date is going to bookend that Dash.

We can’t just live our lives to survive. We must live every day, taking in the wonders and the miracles and the trials.

Just because The Dash doesn’t capture every moment doesn’t mean that every moment shouldn’t be captured. 

* Reference to Part One of “The Dash” Series.

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Let’s talk: 

How would you describe the word “passion?” How can a passion effect you mentally/spiritually/emotionally/physically? Would you consider yourself passionate about life– how so?