It was my junior year of college, I, like every other
student, couldn’t wait for the short Christmas break that marked
the end of a particularly rough semester. I had just started seeing
somebody, nothing serious at that point, but I really liked him. He
was different, and by different I mean he someone I found
interesting for a change. It was the first time I wasn’t going to
be headed home right away. Because of work I would have to stay an
extra ten days on campus before I could go see my family. I told
myself it wasn’t a big deal, that I could handle it. Who was I
kidding? I had a chapel date for the annual dismissal service,
which was good because it would keep me from throwing myself a pity
party and letting myself sulk in jealousy for all those who would
be on their way home to food with flavor and private showers. It
was a good date, we laughed at the jokes, joined in with the
timeless carols, and enjoyed each other’s company, no sulking. We
watched  Mr. Evan’s dismiss with his infamous solo. All of
the students eagerly waited for the  “Have yourself a merry
little Christmas… NOW!”  The line was sung, the chapel
emptied, and we sat enjoying the chaos. I wanted to sit there
forever. I didn’t want him to go home. It was a nine-hour drive to
Northern Michigan, and he had his car ready to go. But he didn’t.
Instead, he walked with me to the dining hall where we ate bland
food on styrofoam plates. Every morning for those ten days, he had
breakfast with me in the Square where we played endless games of
Scrabble and talked for hours. I couldn’t believe it. Every morning
there he was, sitting on the other side of an uncomfortable booth,
drinking bad coffee with watered down creamer. With me. He chose to
stay with me. He didn’t have to. We had been “dating” less than
three months. He had no obligation to stay. But, he did. Those ten
days felt like nothing. Do you know why? Because every morning I
would get dressed and walk into that little campus restaurant and
see him sitting at that booth with two coffees and a Scrabble
board. A year later, he asked me to marry him. Stephanie &
Jesse Wedding [Captured by Studio Cline] Lake Portrait 045

The Beauty of Routine

Spontaneous, that’s something I am definitely not.  I wince at the very thought of someone springing something on me at the very last minute. I’m a planner.  I need to know things in advance so I can prepare myself for them.

It’s not my fault. This temperament was ingrained into my very being as a child. Being raised by an ex-Army Ranger meant a lot of things; the first of which was whenever there was a problem, there was always a corresponding reference to Sun Tzu’s The Art of War . My father strongly believed that Ancient Chinese military strategies were the answer to everything, even the menial, mundane monstrosities that face adolescent girls. Growing up, I did not find them to be the most compassionate pieces of advice, or sometimes even remotely applicable. I did, however, remember one thing my father told me: “All battles are won before they are fought.”

The sole thing I did glean from that was that preparation is everything. I know there are people out there who will disagree with me and say that they perform better under pressure. Good for you. I don’t. “Off-the-cuff” has never worked for me. Now for a word from our sponsors: my fellow classmates will remember “Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance!”

MornImageings. They’re rough. I’m definitely not one of those girls that jump out of bed at sunrise ready to embrace the opportunities of a new day. I looked forward to my junior year of college solely because my Jericho contract had “expired”. This meant that I no longer had to deal with adormitorysupervisor “nudging me” out of bed five A.M. every weekday. I was free to ease myself into the morning; start the coffee (vital), arrange my outfit, read my devos andultimately just get ready in peace.  Like most people, I have found that mornings are usually easier when you have a routine in place. Doing the same thing every morning just helps me mentally prepare myself for the upcoming day.

Now that I’m home for summer, one of the things I had to work on was keeping a routine. It’s not like I’ve had too much to prepare for, but  routines keep me sane. Nine months out of the year I have a set schedule, as much as I wouldn’t admit while I was there…. I like it. I have set hours for school and set hours for work. I’m home now and I Imagereally don’t have too many set hours for anything. I know that after reading the first part of this you’re probably surprised to find that I don’t plan out every hour of my summer a week in advance. My days would start off with such good intentions and end one hour of Pinterest browsing, a couple pages of a good book, and three episodes of Mad Men later. It’s never easy to try to do something that requires self-discipline and keep yourself accountable on top of that. With the help of to-do lists and newly implanted (you guessed it!) routine I can make it.  I’m getting there, little by little.

A Reflection on a Year Gone By

2011 was definitely an eventful year to say the least.  It was trying year, but I learned a lot about myself.

ImageJanuary. In most people’s minds it is a month associated with new beginnings and fresh starts. My January is a time for endings. In the span of one week I lose a relationship, a roommate and a couple friends. I have the stomach flu during most of this too. So, needless to say I did not have a wonderful introduction to 2011.

February: Valentine’s Banquet, the glorified prom of college, is totally overrated and something I never want to go to. I was convinced I had gotten out of it since I was newly single. Wrong. I got asked by one of my good friends from high school. A dress magically appeared in my room that was my size (no joke!) and next thing I know I’m sitting in the dining hall watching some type of Monty Python meets the Lion King meets Shrek musical.

March: So, my banquet date has a really good time. It’s not mutual. There goes another friend.

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April: Finally Spring. I love looking out my window and not seeing snow and an overcast sky! April meant that it was almost time to go home. I went to a Dodgers/Cubs game at Wrigley field, and the Dodgers won! Even better than that, I got to meet Mike McDougal and Jamie Carroll and they signed my shirt. It was a good day:)

May: My favorite month, mostly because of my birthday, but also because it’s the month that school gets out and I get to go home. I turned 20 this last year and I have an awesome birthday. I don’t have to work and spend all day in the mall and Buffalo Wild Wings. A week later, I’m in California again.

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June: Summer is here. I’m officially a junior, which means I have an official school bill to pay now too. Ugh. Luckily, I have a fun job. I work for a photographer; I go to high school proms, pose people and get paid for it. It was a pretty sweet set-up. Even working at the studio doing prints wasn’t so bad.

July: Work starts slowing down. My days consist of staying home and watching either the Office or Mad Men, relaxing by the pool and doing absolutely nothing.

August: Due to Mad Men, my last relationship,and hearing about other people’s relationships I fall into my “man-hater” phase. I decide that all men are shallow jerks and that I’m better off alone. I make plans to live on my own after I graduate and buy a big fluffy white cat named Mr. Darcy, because every spinster starts off with at least one cat right?

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September: Back to school. I have a great room, on a great floor and good classes. I come into this year with a pretty good attitude (and maybe a little bit of the man-hater mentality still.) God has a funny way of bringing things into your life when you least expect it. Labor day, I walk into the Square to buy a drink. I come across a table full of people from my church. They invite me to join their table. I sit with them. I sit next to a good-looking guy I’ve never really talked to before, but always been intrigued with. Three hours later we’re still talking! I learn that we have a lot in common. We have a couple dates here and there. It’s looking good

October: He asks me to Harvest Days, and tells me he likes me. If you’ve read my posts before then you know that’s a huge sea. We’re now in a “stage” and as lame and cheesy as it is I enjoy it. He calls my dad. We’re official. I’m happy:)

November: Thanksgiving. I’m in the dorms. Flying to California is way to expensive. He goes home to Michigan. I miss him. I spend Thanksgiving at my friends house ten minutes away from campus. We have a good time.

December: Winter again. My great-grandmother dies in Montana at age 94. I’m unable to attend the funeral in South Dakota. School gets out. I have to stay and work for a week, he stays back a week with me. We have Scrabble dates every morning:) I lose most of the time, but it doesn’t really bother me that much. I head home and finish the year off on a good note.