Remember that even though you’ve experienced 4 years of college, graduate school is a new experience. Amidst learning a new schedule, meeting new people, figuring out professors’ expectations, and completing loads of assignments, I have to take a moment to myself each day to pause and just breathe. Some days just stopping to catch my breath, counting the number of slow inhales and exhales, relaxes me. Graduate school is stressful, but there’s something about consciously breathing in and out that reminds me that I’m alive! I’m going to make it! It’s a great way to pause and refocus before moving on to the next task in a list of many.
Gone are the days of staying up until 1 or 2am and sleeping until 10 or 11am. Gone. Now, 12am is a late bedtime for me, and sleeping until 8:30 or 9 is a luxury. Honestly, I’m more okay with that than I thought I would be. Completing tasks in the morning and early afternoon gives me a sense of accomplishment. Waiting the night before an assignment was due never gave me that.
Sleeping on a regular schedule actually reduces stress. Yes, I know that people have told me this for years, but I’m finally realizing it. Perhaps I’m a slow learner at times, but now that I’ve got this routine down, I feel indescribably better. Sleep is now something that I look forward to, as opposed to a burden. Getting a good night’s rest is crucial in graduate school. The days will be long and miserable after a poor night’s sleep.
…don’t just eat–eat well. Okay, okay, so I’m still trying to cut out those sodas at dinner and the fast food junk when I’m in a jam. BUT eating well boosts energy and overall attitude. Snacks that are high in protein have become a staple for me. I keep almonds in my desk drawer at work; I’ll throw some low-sodium jerky in my purse for a snack; greek yogurt with fruit and granola is quickly becoming a favorite; and peanut butter will always be my protein comfort food. I can definitely tell a difference in my attitude and energy level on days when I forget my snacks. Nobody wants a tired, grumpy graduate student, so handy snacks are a must.
Oh, and breakfast is ALWAYS a good idea. My Keurig is great, but the caffeine from the coffee is not going to last. Muffins, breakfast bars, fruit–a must. I never thought I’d become a believer in breakfast, but I’ve been converted.
Do the assignments. Do them ahead of time. Plan every hour of every day and squeeze in reading time whenever possible. I print out articles and carry them around in my purse. I carry my books to the office and read between appointments. I read over breakfast, lunch, and usually dinner. I read constantly, it feels like. Sometimes the professors cover the material and sometimes they talk about something entirely different. Either way, completing the reading gives me a better idea of what to expect in class and enables me to answer questions and discuss things with the class.
That’s the best advice I have, and just to be honest, I typed it out mostly for my own benefit. My lifestyle changed drastically in the past three weeks, and it’s a good change. This post will serve as a reminder to keep it up when I feel like giving in.
My first couple of weeks of class have been stressful, it’s true, but they have been overwhelmingly good. Even though the work is never-ending, I am thankful to finally be able to focus on school psychology. I’d rather read 5 articles and upwards of 10 chapters a week about school psychology than have a smaller load of gen. ed. classes.
I MADE MY FIRST SALE ON ETSY! I posted a few things a couple months back just to see what would happen. I was making art for my room in Texas and about 8 different Save the Date templates for a friend. So, I thought, Why not try to sell them. A few months later, here I am! My first sale! I am excited that someone appreciated my work. I’m very thankful, actually.
So I just wanted to share that tidbit and also take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been reading my blog, looking at my photography on Facebook, and supporting me. My photography and Photoshop creations are things that I like to do for fun, but it is nice to know that people appreciate those things. It’s also a nice little extra money for this college kid on a budget.
Again, thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you for booking photo shoots with me. Thank you for purchasing pictures from me. Thank you for purchasing save the dates. Thank you for loving what I do so that I can continue to do what I love!
On Friday Cason and I were blessed with the opportunity to go to Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Cason had never visited, and I was about 6 or 7 the last time I went, so it was an exciting adventure for both of us. It was Cason’s wish to at least visit the Animal Kingdom, while I was eager to see the fireworks behind Cinderella’s castle in the Magic Kingdom. As a result, we got park hopper tickets, spent almost the whole day in the Animal Kingdom and then saw 3 different shows at the Magic Kingdom. Honestly, that was the smart move because the Animal Kingdom was significantly less crowded that day and it seemed like there was so much more to do. We loved seeing all the animals and going on the safari. We even got to ride the Everest ride and a water ride!
Below are plenty of photos for your viewing pleasure. If the mosaic isn’t your style, you can click on any photo to enlarge it and scroll through the rest that way. Enjoy!
Excited to be in Downtown Disney!
Me with Buzz and Woody, lego style
Cason with Buzz and Woody, lego style
Cason with the wall of legos
Giant lego dragon in the lake
Together in front of the Animal Kingdom
The Tree of Life
Together with the Tree of Life
Cason with a Komodo dragon
Me with the tigers
Cason with the tigers
This bird walked right up to Cason
More lovebirds, on the safari
There were so many elephants! I was in love!
This animal walked right in front of our vehicle.
Me with Rafiki.
At the Magic Kingdom
Together at the Magic Kingdom
Begin series of Disney fireworks behind Cinderella’s Castle
Y’all, let me just say that I am thrilled about my pick for grad school. I flew out to Waco, Texas to visit Baylor this past weekend, and it was fabulous! I’m gonna post some pictures and let them pretty much speak for themselves! (Okay, okay, you know I’m gonna add some captions in there!)
Tears are funny things, aren’t they? We all cry for a variety of reasons, but never in my life have I cried so many tears of joy in one week. Over the past year I have cried…a LOT. I was struggling to get over past relationships, battling depression, and oftentimes just trying to make it through to the next day. So I’m very familiar with tears of sadness. However, it has been a while since I cried from pure joy. As a matter of fact, I believe it has been quite a while since I actually experienced pure joy. I’m sure that was a contributing factor to the tears that accompanied the joy that I experienced this week.
I’d like to go into some detail about each event that triggered a waterfall of joyful tears this week, but I’ll start by listing the three occurrences:
Becca’s wedding on Saturday
A new relationship that God has blessed me with
Good news about graduate school
On Saturday my friend, Becca, got married to an amazing Christian guy, and I cried from the moment I saw her start to walk down the aisle and pretty much throughout the wedding ceremony. Becca and I have been in an S-group together since my sophomore year in college. S-groups were implemented at Mercer RUF shortly after I started attending, and they are intended to be “sanctification groups” or accountability groups. S-group was a place where the five of us sophomore girls could share our lives together and be led by an older RUF student. We read scripture, prayed together, and shared the happenings of our lives with each other. I don’t think I realized how much my S-group really impacted my life at college until I left, and I certainly did not realize how closely I had bonded with these women until I practically cried through all of Becca’s wedding. I had experienced the ups and downs of her life through her recollections during each of our weekly meetings, and I have always been encouraged by her unwavering faith in Christ even through the toughest and most unimaginable moments in life. It was no surprise to me that God blessed her with a man rooted in the Word and ready and willing to love Becca as Christ loves the Church. Becca & Phil’s wedding exemplified all that a Christian wedding should stand for; it was a beautiful public profession of their commitment to one another in Christ…and it made me cry tears of joy. Even reflecting on this beautiful union or trying to communicate it to others brought tears to my eyes. So that was my first joyful cry of the week.
Then on Thursday I had a date with
Cason, my now-boyfriend. We have been dating for about a month now, but it seems like I have known him forever. We met back in high school through a program called Teen Advisors (TAs). He was homeschooled, but he came to my high school for TA sessions. We knew each other, and we had plenty of mutual friends, but we weren’t close at the time. I started going to a young adult ministry called The Door when I was at home from college on Christmas and summer breaks, and we reconnected through that. Over a week ago we went on a picnic in the park, and he asked me to be his girlfriend. I was more than ready and willing to enter into an exclusive relationship, but I was hesitant about one thing: Facebook. Cason had already met my parents when he picked me up for our first date, and I thought it only right and respectful to grant his parents the same courtesy before publicly broadcasting our relationship to the world. (We’re getting closer to the point, don’t worry!)
So, Thursday evening I went on a date with Cason to meet his parents, and I was very encouraged by the experience. It allowed me to learn more about how Cason and his family relate, and it was evident that he comes from a family that cares deeply about God and one another. I was so thankful for the opportunity to meet such Godly parents who lovingly raised such a respectful, “faithful,” Christ-centered young man. While sitting on the couch with Cason on Thursday night talking over the evening, I was overwhelmed by all of these thoughts….and it made me cry tears of joy. How embarrassing to sit on a couch in front of your boyfriend of a month and overflow with joyful tears, but he completely understood, which made me feel that much more thankful and blessed to have him in my life. Two months ago if you asked me where I thought I would be, I never would have said, “In a relationship,” but it has been my experience that God always has better plans than I could imagine. For that I am eternally thankful.
Finally, on Friday I received an unofficial email from Baylor expressing their “SIGNIFICANT interest” in me attending their School Psychology grad program. WHAT?!?! WAIT, ME!?!? I re-read the email at least five times…and it made me cry tears of joy. Throughout this whole graduate school application process I have continually reminded myself not to get my hopes up, obviously for no good reason. I think I built such a wall that I did not allow myself to believe that my dreams and risks would actually see positive results. Even when I received the email, I found myself thinking, “This is too good to be true,” and I had to quickly remind myself that I love and serve a God who is ever faithful. I’m constantly reminded that he brought me to the specific profession of school psychology for a reason, and it is even more clear to me now that school psychology is where I am supposed to be, as God continues to remove barriers on my path to becoming a school psychologist. He has put my mind at ease so many times over the course of this application process and constantly reminded me that my future is not really mine at all, but His. I am so eager to continue on this path to becoming a school psychologist via this new avenue of grad school.
I am truly overwhelmed with all of the blessings that God has placed in my life, especially now that I have enough perspective to look back and realize that He’s had his hand over all of these events in my life even before I could have imagined they were possibilities for me. Even during this last year when I had practically given up on so many things in my life and at times wondered what God was doing, He was working in my life to bring fulfillment and thus bring even more glory to His name. I am beyond blessed and overwhelmed with joy and forever thankful to eternally serve a God who is always faithful.