On my absence…

Obviously, I haven’t been around this little place much lately. One big life thing happened while I was gone — I’m a grad now — but putting together the next steps has not been the easiest ride. The good news is, I have a dream! The harder news is now I have to work toward it.

I’ve written about it a little bit here before, but in case you’ve forgotten or are just getting to know me (hello to anyone new out there!) here is my dream: I want to report for NPR and use that opportunity to tell people’s (read your) stories. Especially those most people don’t know about, the stories that shape you in the deepest ways.

I fell in love with the written word a long time ago. Fun fact: on one of those in service days when I didn’t have to go to elementary school I once read an entire Louis Sachar book, and it was one of my favorite accomplishments. Although I could still spend a whole day with my nose stuck in a book, a new love has blossomed in my life. And that would be audio.

I love the way someone’s voice can show you so much about themselves. Where they’re from. The hardships they’ve endured. The joys they’ve experienced. And those little noises in the background of your life you probably don’t even notice anymore, those are pretty great too. Bits of noise — or the music of life if you’re a little bit on the romantic side like me — can enhance a story so much. They provide detail that shows what a day in your shoes looks like but only just enough. Unlike a photograph (which I love too! You know I spend way too much time browsing facebook albums and instagram feeds catching up on what all my pals are up to.), audio lets you use some imagination. You almost understand exactly what someone else’s environment is like, but you have some wiggle room to make up the nitty-gritty details yourself.

So with this new love of mine in mind, this blog might slowly start to look a little different. I have a tiny seed of an idea planted in my head for a future project. I’m hoping it germinates so I can share it with you at a later (but let’s hope sooner) date.

But for now, since I didn’t think to catch any audio of my own graduation, I’ll leave you with another photo of the momentous event. I know it was more than a month ago, but later is better than never, right?

Til then!

Looking Back

This is a new monthly photo feature from my Instagram collection. Each month I’ll be posting some photos so you — and me too — can look back on what this little life of mine has looked like the past 30 (or 31 or 28) days. A bit of reflection is always good for the soul, you know.

Without further ado, here’s April!

(Tip: If you’re curious about what’s going on in the photo, just mouse on over it for a quick description.)

Study time

Variety Show

Pub night encouragement

Last research paper

Before haircutAfter haircut

Jackson gyro

Snail mail

Til then!

Walking in Memphis

 

So several days ago I told you all about finding my dream job on a trip to Memphis. But I found so many other good times on that trip than a path to follow in my quickly-approaching post-grad years.

You want to know the key of what I discovered? Being alone can be good.

I’m not one to take lone adventures, watch movies drinking a slushie for one or seek out hours each day to be completely by myself. I like having my friends around, especially on car trips. But my Memphis adventure was one meant to be taken with just me, myself and I.

I wasn’t going to lug someone around a radio station. I just don’t have too many friends who would be jazzed with a two-hour conversation about public-aired journalism. Plus, this was a trip for me — I hope that doesn’t sound selfish but a girl has got to pursue her dream on her own sometimes, you know?

After an hour drive down I-40 listening to, of course, my favorite NPR member station, I just couldn’t justify turning around and heading back to Jackson without taking advantage of what every girl needs after a little bit of networking in her field of choice: a solid shopping spree. I was free of friends with strong opinions of where to go and hesitant non-shoppers.

I strolled the city’s Anthropologie, bought a sweater that I can’t stop wearing from J. Crew and had an animated conversation about my favorite hot drink at Teavana. I even manage to pick up some Chipotle on my way back to Jackson.

While it might seem insignificant, exploring all by myself added to my confidence that I can indeed do post-grad life on my own and actually enjoy some of the solitude that comes with moving to a new city with no one by your side.

But I do have to say, new friends out there, I’m looking forward to stumbling into you come the end of May.

More news on where I’m headed in the next month to come…

Til then!

Finding future dreams in Memphis

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As a soon-to-be college graduate, I often find myself daydreaming — OK, maybe more like stressing — about what I’m going to be doing after graduation. Some days I have big thoughts — think This American Life or USA Today — and others I just want to pick something I could do with my hands. Most days I feel like I’m drowning in the multitude of choices out there.

But then today rolled around, the day I drove down I-40 to Memphis, bucked up the courage and stepped into my much-anticipated meeting with WKNO, an NPR member station dear to my heart.

As my pals know, in the past two years I’ve developed a near obsession with NPR. I flip my radio dial to WKNO just as often if not more so than the local pop stations. I can have a mean car dance party, flailing fists and all, but I love hearing news and stories about people living both near and far from me. There’s just something about stories that I adore.

All that said, after a much-appreciated talk and tour of the station I feel like I may have found my calling, and it’s in radio. We’ll see where this crazy path of life takes me, but right now my heart is calling out for the airwaves. And I couldn’t be happier.

Til then!

Providence: The Last Days

This is the final installment on my series about a mission trip to Providence, R.I., I took with my university. It has been fun telling you about my time in the good ol’ Ocean State.

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Our final morning approached too quickly, and my heart was heavy when I thought of leaving this dedicated community. They drove us for the last time to the airport and after several hugs, promises to visit each other and hints made for us to move to Providence, we dragged our luggage inside. The trip back was not as painful physically as the first had been for me, but emotionally I was not ready to leave the Ocean State. Spending a week caring for people instead of laboring over my studies was the best decision for the last spring break of my life. But it made the idea of returning to my desk and lonely bedroom miserable.

I was happy to discover I was the only roommate back from traveling when I dropped my bags in my living room that afternoon. Being alone allowed space and quiet to realize that being on an emotional high for seven days, although it is enthralling, drained me. My last desire was to spend more time with people, but I could not pull myself away from joining in my neighbors’ conversations about their perils and pleasures from the past week. The fact that food was involved was not too bad either.

Although rest was what I should have strived for, one more social event was on my calendar. Two of my teammates, now close friends, from my week away decided to go see “The Hunger Games,” a movie I had been anticipating seeing for months, and I was not particularly ready to dive into the assignments I knew were waiting for me. So I joined them at the least fancy theater in town for one more time to gasp and giggle together. The sun had sunk by the time we left the theater, and my top priority was climbing under my covers. Reflecting on the lessons I had learned would come tomorrow.

Being back in my own church community was like falling into the arms of my father after breaking up with my first boyfriend. I was comforted and felt at home, but I knew I would never see the service the same way again. Rhode Island and Grace Harbor showed me how dear my fellow believers are and what a real community looks like. They eat together, study together and bear each other’s burdens together, and these actions did not happen just on Sunday morning. They lived daily together. I found myself wishing for what I did not have in the South: blunt but completely dedicated brothers and sisters.

With the passing of the morning hours, I had to face the mounting pile of homework and unanswered emails because I did not bring a single book or check for urgent messages the entire time I was away. I wanted to be swallowed by the fellowship I knew I would find in Rhode Island, and that meant often leaving my phone behind and even ignoring messages from my parents or professors. I stepped away and dedicated all my time to those around me and contemplated on what I was called as a Christian to do. The hardest part was returning to the daily grind of rising early, staring at my laptop most of the day and lying down late. The first and last part of my day I could handle, that comes with being in your early twenties, but the middle was what wore on me. Oh, how I yearned for the middle to be filled with people and laughter and hearty meals instead of papers and interviews and classes. Maybe once again it will.

Thanks for joining me on this journey! Keep coming back for some more stories…

Til then!

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Providence: Day Seven

This post is the seventh installment in a series of a mission trip I took with my university to Providence, R.I. The adventure is almost over, so keep coming back to see how it ends!

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My team’s last full day with our beloved Rhode Island friends started with a student leader meeting and Bible study. During the study, I was struck with the group’s dedication to sticking to the Bible. At the gathering, which included our team, the Christian Student Fellowship leaders and other Johnson and Wales students, the only necessity was a Bible. No commentaries or pre-written discussion questions were a part of this weekly get together. The hungry students sat down and read a chapter then asked any questions they had and connected it to their daily struggles. One girl with a Jewish background even shared how the questions we covered that morning became a part of her regular phone conversations with her mother, who did not understand why her daughter was so interested in Jesus Christ. The eagerness and lack of familiarity with stories many Southerners grow up listening to was refreshing, and drew me to admire these searching students.

Our last afternoon was spent however we chose, which in my case was exploring the Brown University bookstore and surrounding shops, but we were instructed to be intentional about sharing the Gospel with those we encountered. A friend and I first had to make a pit stop for allergy medicine. My cough from before we departed for Rhode Island still plagued me, and my roommate was tired of putting up with the constant noise at night.

After downing some sweetened syrup for relief, the two of us wandered through a couple pricy thrift stores before running into Jose. He was one of those grungy, wild looking street vendors selling handmade leather bracelets. At first we passed him, but my partner decided to turn around to find a gift for her sister. Little did we know this encounter with the bushy-browed, Spanish man would turn into my only conversation directly involving the Gospel that week. He told us stories of his youth, including tales of his uncommitted Canadian girlfriend and failed attempt to become a priest as a young boy. He was Catholic by heritage and shot one eyebrow up in the air when we told him we believed Jesus was born of a virgin and died and rose to save us from our sin. Apparently not even priests had to believe back when he was a child. Although we shared our thoughts on religion with the man, he continued using wishy-washy spiritual language and went back to his stories about women. We left him forty minutes later after purchasing two braided bracelets, and I was both exhausted from listening to the mix of Spanish and English and excited that I had finally mounted the courage to share what I believe. Jose was both a woe and a delight.

Leaving behind the scruffy man downtown, my team joined back up just in time for a meal and fellowship with one more Grace Harbor family. The Reids, who I had shared one of my first lunches with in Providence, brought us into their home to share their heart: adopting children within their city’s foster care system. We met each of their children and heard stories of the many who had passed through that very house and back into the care of their biological families. Seeing a couple so dedicated to loving small ones who often feel unloved or neglected showed me and my team just how much risking your own feelings — the Reids had sent many of the little ones they wished to call their own back to their original families — for others is beautiful and worth chasing after. Though the night involved serious and heartfelt conversation, fun and laughter was still a part of my last evening in Providence. I learned to dance and cradled a squirmy baby, but most of all I learned that taking action to purposefully love those who initially do not seem like or look like me brings more joy and unexpected friendships than I could imagine.

The adventure is almost over…

Til then!

Providence: Day Six

Here’s the sixth installment of my Providence series. I took a mission trip with my university, and it was pretty grand. Only a few days are left so look forward to them!

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We had a day of rest and play on Thursday with no obligations, no expectation to hand out church business cards. The day was just for time to play and explore as a team. Instead of visiting Boston like past teams to Providence had done, we decided to stay faithful to the Ocean State and rode a bus to Newport. After riding for an hour with all kinds of characters, my favorite being the pale boy dressed in black with chains playing his screaming metal music loud enough for all to hear, we arrived at the quaint visitor center. The lady behind the gray-blue desk gave Julie and I a map so we could conquer the city and noted that a worthy stop was the Catholic church where Jackie O. and John Kennedy were married. Julie gathered the group who had spread out all across the center, some playing with the touch screen information booths, others reading brochures at far tables, and we took off.

The Catholic church proved to be a delightful stop because if we hadn’t dropped by we never would have me Bob. Bob was something like a groundskeeper for the church and other than attending mass every day the 84 year old informed us he spent three hours each night after his shift doing yoga. In fact, we heard more about his exercise than the beautiful church. When he started a wall-sitting contest between him and the other young men on my team I decided to stray.

Although most Grace Harbor member are leery of Catholics and don’t quite consider them under the umbrella of true Christians, the ancient Roman church has a dear place in my heart. They just understand elements of worship and reverence more than us Protestants do. I strolled around the sanctuary caressing the pointed pews and directing my thoughts toward the Austrian stained glass windows and the story they told. Beauty is something my boxy home church forgets about. The high pointed ceilings and enormous painted window at the front drew me toward worshiping God. They weren’t distracting. They guided me to where the church should want us to focus: our heavenly father.

Unfortunately, the conversation with Bob did not last much longer after I moseyed away from my group and we had to leave. My thoughts that afternoon though stayed with the Catholics for a while. Bob didn’t strike me as a Gospel preacher by any means, but I wondered how many people knew the Creator of our universe like I did.

My fun-loving team’s afternoon was filled with eating fresh seafood, enduring the cold, windy beach and piddling around on the city’s cliff walk. We soon lost interest in the sea and made our way to downtown, which was filled with fancy shops and fabulous eateries. While searching for a tea coffee shop, I passed a window with a sign for crepes and chocolate and had to pause. Making my group walk in was the best decision of my day. After chatting with the sweet server, I was surprised to discover she too identified herself as a Christian. She asked why we were in Rhode Island so far from Tennessee and we struggled to give her the true answer. Once we said we were working with a church she assured us we could tell her the whole reason we were here. After talking about sharing the Gospel and her church, we made our orders.

I thought finding a fellow believer in this French-inspired shop was delightful, but the tea-infused chocolate crepes and hot drinks she served us were just as satisfying. I had never had sweets that were so tasty and accompanied by encouraging conversation. Sadly, the time quickly came for us to depart the friendly little shop and find the team members who had strayed in search of quality coffee, which we eventually found. The rest of the day was filled with girl talk, which does indeed find its way into a mission trip, and roaming the streets of Newport. At the end of the day, I was more than glad to have left the typical road trip to Boston behind and taste the local tourism in Newport in its place.

More adventures are on their way…

Til then!

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