Tuesday, August 31, 2010

To Be Clear...

About a month ago, Aaron and I were waiting at Bread & Cup for our awesome pizza to be delivered to the table and we were having a light conversation about appreciating the here and now, rather than wishing we had something different.  We were talking specifically about a topic that is no doubt on nearly everyone's mind right now...  The weather.  Yes, really.  (Feel free to scoff.  Just don't stop reading yet.)

The topic came up because, in the heat of late July/early August, I had been reading all sorts of comments, on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc., about how everyone was ready for summer to be over and for fall to start.  Although deep down, I agreed, we talked about the fact that in a few short months, we would all be longing for the warmth of summer and cursing the freezing temps and feet of snow on the ground, and the idea that maybe it is better to fully accept and appreciate summer now, while we have it, than to prematurely look ahead and wish for fall.  Sounds nice, right?  And I'd say I successfully managed living in the heat (oops! I mean "here") and now for at least three weeks.  Well...  I am here to TAKE IT ALL BACK.  I rescind my comments.  I want fall RIGHT NOW.  Yesterday, in fact, would be lovely.

Maybe it's been the extreme humidity or oppressive heat of this summer.  Maybe it's because I spent most of my time in exile in my basement writing my thesis and now the outdoors are shocking my body and mind into submission.  Maybe I've just reached my limit and I can't possibly sweat any more.  I don't know.  What I do know is that I really hate walking a few blocks to class and having to stop in the bathroom to dry off.  I also hate having to plan my whole day around the fact that I know I'm going to sweat out two liters of water on a half hour bike ride to school.  It really makes me want to drive.  PLUS, I'm totally sick of all of my summer clothes.

And on top of all of those things, I LOVE fall!!!  It is unquestionably my favorite season.  I love the fact that daytime is jeans and tshirt weather, but the evenings warrant a sweatshirt.  I love the colorful trees, the falling leaves, and the crispness in the air.  I love pumpkins, apple cider, oatmeal, hot coffee, chocolate chip cookies (come on, who really wants to turn on the oven when the heat index is 103?), and pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks.  I love volleyball season and college football season.  In fact, my very favorite memories from the fall are from lazy Saturday afternoons, college football on TV, windows open with the breeze blowing in, all while I nap on the couch.  Is it clear?  I.  LOVE.  FALL.

So, just to be very clear, I'm through with summer.  I want it to go away and stay away - at least until next May when I'll likely be over this.  Period.  The end.  Who's with me???

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Comfort Zones

Greetings from Missouri!  I know it's been a while since I last posted, but things have been just a little busy...

A week ago, my mom and Aaron helped me pack up and move nearly all of my belongings to a new town, in a new state to start a new PhD program at a new school (the move went smoothly, by the way, except for the fact that my cat screamed the ENTIRE way and nearly lost a tooth in a moment of cat carrier panic).  I have spent the last 7 days cleaning, organizing and decorating my new apartment, attending new classes on a new campus, and organizing a new office in which I started a new job (well, it's sort of a job, I guess).

Guess what?  Change is kind of scary.  But you know what's scarier?  Stepping outside of my comfort zone, over and over and over again.  I have lived in new places and started new jobs more times than I can remember (ok, I remember how many places I've lived in - 6), so you'd think I'd be a pro by now, right?  I mean, I even moved to a FOREIGN COUNTRY, for goodness sake.  Even so, the comfort zone thing still freaks me out.

For the last two years, I was living at home in the town I grew up in, going to school on a campus that I have walked around on since I was little.  I rode my bike to school on paths and streets I was familiar with, I shopped at grocery stores and Targets that I knew well.  If my tank was running low, I knew where the nearest gas station was almost anywhere in town.  This move has forced (allowed???) me to step out of those major comfort zones, and while I am really enjoying school, my new place, and the town, I'm still pretty much constantly aware that my zone of comfort is nowhere to be found.

Today, I finally had time to walk over to the Student Rec Center on campus (which, by the way, is the NICEST rec center I've ever been a member of so far, by far), sign up for a monthly locker membership, and squeeze in a workout.  For some reason, this was a much more intimidating task than it should have been.  To be honest, I was totally dreading it.  I didn't really know where the entrance was to the rec, how the check-in process goes, who I should talk to about the locker thing, where the weight room was, etc., etc.  (Are any of you thinking I'm a big wimp right now?)  And although I'm nearly 29 years old, it is still very uncool to walk around the rec center looking like a lost freshman who doesn't know where the free weights are.  But...  I sucked it up and did it anyway.  I asked questions, I asked directions, I walked around until I found the free weights and I left knowing that when I go back next week, it will be a lot easier.

In all of my travels, moves, new jobs, new towns I have learned over and over again that the only way to feel comfortable in a new place is to actually take that first step outside of your zone.  Then take a second and a third (baby steps are acceptable here), until you know your way around.  You don't stay a freshman forever and the more you push the limits and force yourself to do things like asking the cute senior guy how to get to the locker room (that's just an example, of course), the faster a new place starts to feel more like home.  And, it has also been my experience that forcing yourself to take a major step in a new direction every once in a while can lead to serious personal growth and new-found self-respect.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a new student get-together to attend for the Anthropology Department.  I'm going to go meet all sorts of new people!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Well...  It is officially official.  I am going to graduate.  I passed my thesis defense, I turned in a final copy of my thesis (all 148 pages of it!!!), and I got all of the necessary signatures and stamps.  That feels pretty freaking awesome, I must say.

Last night, before the start of a totally killer yoga class, Thomas (the instructor) talked about embracing our own awesomeness and accepting the fact that we are all great at something.  Then, throughout the class, he asked us what we would look like or feel like if, in that moment, we believed we were truly awesome.  Immediately, I started to think about what I would look like if I were my most awesome self...  fitter, more fashionable, better hair, 10 pounds lighter, etc., etc.  Then I stopped.  And I realized that the only way to really accept my own awesomeness was to think of myself as awesome in that very moment - with the clothes I had on, with my hair a mess, and with my body exactly as it was and is.  Instead, I thought about how I would feel on the inside if I believed in my own awesomeness and how that would radiate on the outside.  I focused on the way I would behave and how I would approach each moment and each new challenge.  Because real awesomeness, the kind of awesomeness that I can fully embrace, shouldn't have anything to do with what I want to change about myself or what I want to do, look like, be in the future, but should be about the awesome person that I am NOW.  I should look in the mirror every morning and think about how the awesome Katie looking back at me is going to choose to feel, to behave, and to treat herself that day.

Such a message couldn't have come at a better time for me (sometimes I think there is some higher power leading me into yoga class on the days I really need to be there).  I am in the midst of whole bunch of big life changes.  Our family is changing, with a new little member due in September (see the new baby bump picture below).  I am moving to a new town, a new state, and starting over from scratch in a new graduate program.  I'm moving away from my family, very dear friends, and a boyfriend that I love.  I'll admit, I'm a little freaked out about it all, and definitely sad to move out of a part of my life that has been so good for me and that I have enjoyed so much.  So, it's time to ask myself, "How would AWESOME Katie deal with this?"  (I already know how un-awesome Katie would handle it.  Think:  messy pile of weepy tears.)

I'm pretty sure that AWESOME Katie (I don't normally talk about myself in third person) will feel sad, but will not let the sadness overcome her last two weeks with friends and family or taint her first few weeks in a new town, causing her to pass up opportunities to meet new people and make new friends.  AWESOME Katie will think about the exciting possibilities that come with these changes:  a nephew to squeeze and spoil (probably mostly only with love since I will still be a broke graduate student), a new apartment all to myself to decorate however I want and to be completely myself in, a new town with a great vibe, a new school that is taking me one step closer to a career that I am passionate about, chances to make new friends (a girl can never have too many, right?), and, I believe, an opportunity to open all of my current relationships up to brand new possibilities.  AWESOME Katie will march into class on my first day feeling excited and thrilled to be there.  AWESOME Katie will not worry about how she looks or what people will think of her, but will assume that everyone will immediately want to be her friend.  Why, you ask?  Because she's AWESOME.

So, today, I choose to be AWESOME Katie.  I choose to own my awesomeness and feel great about today and who I am in it.  And I'm going to clean my room.

When you think about embracing your own awesomeness, what do you think of?  How would you feel?  How would you act?  Would it change the way you approached a certain situation or the way you walked into a room?

Oh!  Here's Maggie's latest picture!  She's 7 1/2 months along.

And one more thing...  There's this blog, "Operation Beautiful" , that focuses on celebrating inner beauty and believing you're beautiful just as you are.  It's awesome.  The blog's author, Caitlin, is also releasing her first book, which I'll be picking up just as soon as my first paycheck comes through.  She is also encouraging other bloggers to write about changing the way you see yourself, so I thought my theme fit in pretty well with that.   Enjoy!