Lessons From a Grad Student: Part 2

HNCK8433As I mentioned back in January, I took couple classes to decided whether I could attempt the history graduate program at my university. I am proud to say I passed both classes and will be beginning my first semester as a full time graduate student today!

I am a little nervous about taking two graduate classes this semester instead of just one with an undergrad, but I’m pretty excited to see how’ll do!

With that in mind I thought I would share some of what I learned last semester that I hope will help make me a better student this semester!

Papers Require Time and Organization

This seems like a given but I never really had to study really hard in high school (with the exception of biology). For the few papers I had to write last semester I had to organize myself exactly like I did for my final senior paper (a four-thousand word essay on a very specific and boring topic, that I won’t share so you won’t fall asleep reading this post). It took a lot more time and motivation to complete my papers last semester and ensure I would do well on them. I even wrote some of them twice!

Keep a Detailed Planner

This one has always been pretty easy for me because I love keeping a planner. I always color code my classes and write down the important dates from the syllabus as soon as I get it. What was more difficult for me was writing out my day by hour and setting aside time to do the required reading (it was also incredibly difficult not to fall asleep while doing the reading).

Read the Prompt Carefully

My high school history teacher drilled into our heads that the verbiage of the prompt determines what you write. For my first grad paper, I emailed her and she lovingly read the paper and called me with comments on it. The first thing she told me was that I didn’t answer the prompt, I had just rambled on to reach my page count. One piece of advice she gave that stuck with me is after each paragraph reread the prompt and ask myself if I answered the question. If i had, move on to the next paragraph; if not, rewrite it!

I’m so excited for this next chapter in my life and the opportunity to continue my education!

 

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Curls and My Life with Them

Art Hill The Jewel Box Forest Park St. Louis, Missouri Summer Anniversary Abigail + Colton257

Curly hair is not always fun. It’s not even fun most of the time. I struggle and fight with it everyday and eventually just throw it into a messy bun or a ponytail to get it out of my way.

I have always had curly hair, and for as long as I can remember, its been a pain. I remember vividly taking child-safe scissors to my pony tail in preschool because I wanted a cute bob like all the other girls (hint: curly hair doesn’t work well in bobs).

My hair has been the cause of bullying and hurtful nicknames, while also allowing me to be unique (Colton said he was first attracted to me because of my hair). It looks fun and different but it’s so difficult!

I used to spend hours reading about how to style my hair, what products to use, to shampoo or no-poo, it went on and on. There are no set rules for curly hair. I once read that people with curly hair can have 2 to 4 different curls styles on one head of hair. Each of those curl styles need different care and, unfortunately, you can’t separate them.

I got my first perm in 8th grade. That sounds silly, right? Perming already curly hair? But people do it to try and uniform all the different curl styles into one. I got perms maybe once or twice a year until my senior of high school when I decided to try something different and got a Keratin treatment. It completely straightened my hair for almost four months and then gave me the cutest waves for another two….and then I went right back to mismatch curls. I liked the Keratin treatment but there were times I missed my curls.

So I went back to perming for a while, was continually disappointed with the results and just stopped altogether. So now I’m left with my mismatched curls and contemplating another Keratin treatment or a beach wave perm (loose waves, basically). The great thing about curls is no matter what you do to them, they almost always come back. They’re like that annoying friend that won’t let the friendship go, you know, the absolute best friends in the world?

Maybe one day I’ll fall in love with my curls and leave them natural but for now, why not take the chance and try to have some fun with them?!

Learning to be Graceful

ballet-sneaker-dress-ballet-dancer-163379When I was growing up I was always confused over the definition of grace. To me, grace could be one of two things: a trait of a dancer or a trait of Jesus. I constantly struggled over which it was and how to have grace like Christ when the majority of what I knew of grace was a type of movement.

As I grew up, the definition of grace always tugged at the back of my mind when I heard a pastor mention it in a sermon.What is grace? And how do I show grace in my everyday life?

I recently decided it was time to research what grace was and answer my own questions. According to Google, the definition of grace is this:

Grace (n): 1. The simple elegance or refinement of a movement; 2. The free unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.

Now at first the second definition seemed like a jumble of big words, so I decided to dig a little bit deeper into the Christian definition of grace.

In the Old Testament the word grace is the Hebrew word Chen.Chen.jpg

Chen speaks of the deliverance of enemies, affliction, or adversity. It signifies enablement, daily guidance, and forgiveness. Chen means “finding favor.”*

In the New Testament the Greek word used is Charis.grace

Charis stands for the provision of salvation and God’s love in action. Here we see grace take on a redemptive sense.

While researching the definition, I learned a few quick lessons about grace:

  • Grace must be taught
  • Grace is conditional upon acceptance
  • Grace is not earned, it is given
  • Grace means desiring the best for someone, even if they don’t deserve it

I still struggle with being graceful most days. One of the most difficult places to live out grace is in my marriage. Grace is so much more than unearned forgiveness. It’s placing someone else before yourself and trusting them explicitly. Because of our human nature, this is nearly impossible to do. We want to place our needs first and trust no one.

I can’t remember where I first heard the phrase “be fire and grace” but I love it. Grace was never meant to be easy. Grace is hard. Just like the first definition of grace. Ballet dancers train for years in order to be called graceful on stage. Grace is a daily lesson and battle. It takes strength to live out grace everyday.

I say all of this to say, Be fire and grace. You’ll be amazed at how your life changes.

Lessons from a Wife

WCA_190_CL.jpgEveryone says marriage is hard but you don’t realize how hard it is until you’re married. You think “Oh I know it’s hard, we’re prepared for hard” but you’re not. You’re never prepared to consider therapy just six months in. You’re not prepared for the family awkwardness and the nights that you’re alone. You’re never prepared for the thoughts that sneak in your mind whispering that he regrets marrying you. You’re never fully prepared for marriage. 

So why do we do it? Because of love, the feeling. It’s the thing that drives us to the alter to promise ourselves to someone else. It’s what we think will get us through the rest of our lives together. 

But it won’t. 

So how do we make it? Love, the verb. Choosing to love them when you’re angry beyond words. Choosing to forgive them and show them grace when you really don’t want to. We have to choose to make it through each day and each night. Because love is an action that demands to be done.

The above is from a post I made on my tumblr not long ago. Colton (my husband) and I were struggling. Badly. We weren’t living our happily ever after. At times, it seemed almost the opposite. I barely saw him because of his work schedule and any free time was taken up with family obligations, so we weren’t getting any time to ourselves.

It all came to a head when Colton made a bad decision at a bachelor party (I’m sure you can imagine) and I blew a gasket. I was so furious. I don’t think I had ever yelled at him like that before. I don’t think I had ever yelled at anyone like that before. I started to question who I married and he started to question me. Not somewhere you want to be when you’re staying the night at your parents house.

There were many tears shed over the next couple of days as I worked on forgiveness and he worked on gaining my trust back. There were nights I didn’t want to see him and then there were nights where I wanted to talk but he wanted to sleep. One of the latter nights prompted my tumblr rant.

I fell in love with Colton over two years ago. There were many times I questioned us, but I chose to stay because I knew God had brought him to me for a reason. I wake up each morning and choose to love the man lying beside me and he has to do the same to me. I choose him when I’m mad because he didn’t do the dishes.  He chooses me when I’m acting bratty. You don’t come into marriage knowing how to be a husband or wife. You have to take the time and learn and you have to choose to do so.

One of my favorite quotes is from my Youth Choir Director when he gave his last sermon at my childhood church. “Love is something we do. We don’t find it. We don’t fall in it. We live it.”

Live Love.

Lessons from a Grad Student: Part 1

pexels-photo-203218I recently made the decision to go back to school for my Master’s…in a completely different subject than my Bachelor’s. I graduated this past August with a Bachelors of Science in Hospitality Administration. A dream of mine has always been to plan weddings (other than my own). However, when deciding to pursue my Master’s, I went in a completely different direction. History.

Trust me, I know there’s basically nothing in common between History and Hospitality besides some letters. But when I was in high school, I was in an advanced program that required multiple research papers and rigorous studying and I absolutely loved it. College wasn’t like that for me. Hospitality was more of a hands-on major with common-sense type papers. And nothing’s wrong with that! I loved my degree program! But I sincerely missed learning and researching.

History has always been a type of outlet for me (thanks to my amazing high school teacher). I have always loved learning about where we came from and what we’ve learned from it.

Colton and I have considered my going back to school for a while because his job is located in our college town and I don’t have full-time job. I thought and prayed and talked about it on and on until one night (partially tipsy) I sent in my grad school application.

I began discussing the program with one of the professors because there was some concern over my lack of undergraduate history credits (I clepped out because of my high school class *hair flip*). The more we talked about it, the more excited I became. We discussed my love for history, how I read analyses for fun (yes, I’m that nerd), and how my high school class had prepared me for this.

He finally decided to accept me ‘on condition.’ The condition being that I must complete an undergrad history class and one masters class this semester and make an A or a B in both.

And so my graduate school journey begins next week! I’m excited to continue learning and I’ll be keeping your updated!

Lessons from 2016

This year has been one for the books. I got engaged, married, graduated, and moved twice all in the first nine months. I had three different jobs, applied for many more, and decided to go back to school for my Master’s degree. I’ve learned a lot over the year through the good and bad experiences. I thought I’d share a few things from throughout the year that made an impact and made this year unforgettable.

January-Jan 16- Got Engaged- Engagement was not at all like I had pictured it. Even the proposal wasn’t like I had imagined it. I think girls today envision this huge production like we see in the youtube videos and we forget that our boys aren’t those boys. Colton, my husband, surprised me with a surprise birthday party and proposed as my last gift. It was perfect. I wouldn’t have changed anything for a lip synced chorus line because our proposal fit our relationship. f1136981-46a7-4392-9124-9597ad494fa3

April- Wedding Planning- Wedding planners are not meant to plan their own weddings. At least, I wasn’t. I hated making decisions. I could implement whatever decision was made but I was miserable when I had to choose. Colton just wanted to get married in his church and that was all of his input. I can see why so many people want short engagements (us included), it is so difficult and stressful and it can really test your relationship.

June– June 10- Got Married!!WCA_209_CL

June 18- This is the day that Colton began his first “big-boy” job since graduating college in May. The only issue was it was an hour and a half away from our home. We spent the first two months of our marriage driving and working and missing each other. While it was miserable at the time, it made us appreciate what little time we got together.

August-Aug 5- Graduated College- Also unlike what I had pictured. I graduated, I had lunch with my family and in laws, napped and then went to my husband’s family reunion. This really taught me that you have to make sacrifices for your husband’s family. I may have wanted to spend time with my family or even sleep more, but his family is now mine, so I have to put as much effort in visiting with his family as I would want him to put in with mine.2d5b66db-f40d-4fe0-ae52-91629cc66ada

November– Nov 2- CHICAGO CUBS WIN THE WORLD SERIES- I have been a Cubs fan since I first understood what baseball was because of my father. Getting to see this win was a dream come true for my dad and I. I will always remember laying in bed, watching the game on my phone, trying really hard to not wake Colton up. That is, until they won and I woke him up screaming “WE WON! WE WON!” and immediately called my dad. It just goes to prove that hard work, dedicated fans, and constant dreaming can make anything possible. rscn1155

December-December was hard. Colton and I were struggling in our marriage. I had my first bad anxiety attack while he was at work. It was my first Christmas morning without my family. My family lost a beloved pet at the hand of horrible accident. I am so glad the year is coming to an end, because we all need a fresh start.

And that’s exactly what 2017 brings. A fresh start. Colton and I have made out our goals for the next year and we’re so excited to get started on them. New Years Eve is made for dreaming of the future and that’s exactly what I plan on doing.

Happy New Year

May your year be full of Hope and Blessings and Grace.

Abby

Lessons from a Blogger

person-woman-apple-hotelAfter I graduated College in August, I began the journey to try and find a job in my degree field. I have never been so exhausted and downtrodden. I asked for leads from professors, checked online job sites everyday, and sent out so many resumes that I got tired of seeing my own name. Living in a smaller city, its difficult to find a position for a party planner, as you can imagine, but I was finally given a chance with a local florist.

They were looking for someone young to improve their social media presence and to reach out to younger clients. My habit of playing with Photoshop became one of my greatest assets and I was given a job as Social Media Coordinator/Event Designer in Training (a completely made up job title lol).

I began updating their Facebook page, their Instagram, Twitter, etc. and began working on a blog. This is something my boss had requested and I had mentioned I had some experience in the field (not that this blog is anything to brag about). I began writing blog posts for the shop and I have learned quite a few lessons from blogging for them, and I thought I would share.

Don’t set impossible expectations

I am so terrible at doing this to myself. When I started, I felt that we needed to have a blog post everyday with a corresponding tweet, insta, and facebook post. And I felt that the blog should have succeeded incredibly well. Needless to say I was, and still am if I’m honest, disappointed when some days didn’t have any views. You have to remember how many blogs are out there, where you are, the style of your blog, and the money you put into it.

Give Credit!

This is one of my biggest pet peeve’s when I’m looking for blog inspiration. It is astounding how many blogs do not credit the photographers who took the original images (and no, crediting Pinterest is not good enough). You have to remember that those photos are the photographer’s living! They worked for hours taking and editing those photos and they deserve proper credit.

Keep Track

Keep track of what you’re working on, what you’ve done in the past and what you plan on writing on. I loved Whit’s Blog Planner before she stopped selling them. So I was forced to create my own (much less cute) blog planner.untitled-1

And most importantly…

Have Fun

If you don’t have fun writing your blogs, your readers probably aren’t going to have fun reading them. Your personality comes through your writing so be sure to show how fun and passionate you are about what you’re writing, otherwise why are you writing it?

Lessons from my Internship

048 CLINTON FOUNDATION OLYMPIC STAGING 062216I have been incredibly busy this summer between getting married, finishing my degree, applying for jobs, and completing my internship at the Clinton Foundation, but this summer has also been one of my greatest learning experiences. The opportunities I have gotten to experience are truly once in a lifetime.

I have gotten to meet and escort the First African-American Secretary of Labor, sit in on a lecture given by the Right Honorable Tony Blair, meet the CEOs of my husband and my jobs, and meet President Clinton himself! It has been a whirlwind of a summer that I will never forget. As my internship comes to a close, I wanted to take note of a few things I have been taught over the summer.

Organization is Key

I was constantly surprised by how many times I was praised for my organization. Whether that be in my school binder, my notes, or the projects I was assigned. My manager was more willing to give me larger projects because he knew that I could keep it organized and it would be done correctly.

Use Your Voice

Just a few days ago I was preparing for an event with one of my managers and mentioned that working events was what I loved to do. She turned to me shocked and said, “Why didn’t you say something sooner?!” She immediately began planning ways to get me more involved with everything for events, from flowers to table seating. It surprised me how willing she was to help me rather than me assisting her. She berated me later for not speaking up because I would never get where wanted unless I asked for it.

Have a Mission

In my leadership class last spring we had to create a personal mission statement that would reflect why we were trying for a degree. I remember being pretty proud of my mission statement but never using it again after that class. During a panel discussion with Presidents Bush and Clinton and the Right Honorable Tony Blair, Blair said “If you go on to have a leadership position, do it for a mission, not for a position” and it had a huge impact on me. What was my mission? This entire experience has made me rethink where I’m headed and how I’m trying to get there.

I am so grateful for this opportunity to have gotten to intern at such an amazing workplace and learn so much about what goes into making a non-profit foundation work.

Lessons from a CEO

44 CLINTON FOUNDATION INTERNS MEET WITH DONNA & KEVIN by NELRecently I was given the chance to meet Donna Shalala, the CEO of the Clinton Foundation, where I am currently an intern. The interns were invited to have breakfast with Donna and Kevin Thurm, the COO of our organization. It had barely begun when I reached into my purse for my notepad to start taking notes. There was so much to learn from them and I wanted to share some of the lessons with you!

Vary Your Career

Donna and Kevin could not stress enough that your career should be varied rather than working for one company for an extended period of time. They were more inclined to pick an applicant with a more varied career because it showed flexibility and adaptability. When an applicant has worked one place for a while there is a question of whether they can adapt to a new environment.

Force Yourself to Learn Something

During the breakfast, Donna said one of her main regrets was that she never learned more languages. One of the main topics of the talk was education and how we should take any learning opportunity that came our way. Kevin stressed that we should get out of our comfort zones and always force yourself to learn something from everything we do.

You’re Not Able to be Everything You Could Be

One thing Kevin said that stuck with me is when he spoke about Callings vs. North Stars. Callings are when someone knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are supposed to be doing this career. A North Star is something that you enjoy and could be good at. A person could have any number of north stars but you can only have one calling. Sometimes a person never has a calling at all, and when that happens you have to pick a North Star to follow, but you can only follow one.

I learned so many things from this experience and as my internship draws to a close I can’t wait to see what else I learn in the last few weeks of this experience.

70 CLINTON FOUNDATION INTERNS MEET WITH DONNA & KEVIN by NEL

Clinton Foundation Interns with Donna Shalala and Kevin Thurm

How to Respect Professors You Don’t Like

Sometimes in college, you take classes you don’t like, most of the time with professors you don’t care for. Professors are hit and miss. Sometimes they’re amazing and you don’t mind sitting through an hour-long lecture by them. But sometimes their voice will quickly become like nails on a chalkboard to you. Through it all, they are still your superiors and you have to respect them, and that might be your biggest assignment of the semester.

I’m unfortunate enough this semester to have two professors that it takes all I have to make it to and through their classes. They’re not bad people, they just have a tendency to be excessive and focus on their focused major instead of incorporating all assignments for any major. My job this semester is not only to pass their classes with flying colors but end the semester on good terms with both of them. These are just a few ways that I try to show them respect:

Stay Off your Phone and Stay Focused

The biggest insult to a professor is knowing your students aren’t paying attention to what you’re saying. I know how tempting it is to check Instagram or browse Pinterest while they’re speaking, but it’s incredibly rude. Try to take notes, this can keep you focused on what they’re saying and also help you on the test.

Reach Out

Professors love when you reach out and email them when you’re having trouble with an assignment. It shows professionalism and that you’re dedicated to the class. This can help you with assignments and establishes a bond with your professor that could be good for recommendations.

Take Assignments Seriously

Your professors will remember how well you do on your assignments and how much work it seems you put into it. If you submit a really well written answer for a five-point assignment, your professor will remember it and it could come back to help you when you have that 89.4 in class and you need an A.

I hope this help you guys! Do you have advice on respecting professors or professor horror stories? Share below!