Weekend Coffee Share: It’s Almost Christmas!

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you how excited I am for Christmas!  This time of year is always incredibly busy with holidays and family commitments, but I couldn’t be happier.  I’ve got a lot coming up over the next few weeks–Christmas, attending a conference in St. Louis, and getting ready to head to England.  To be honest, I’m having a hard time focusing because there are so many big events in a row.

If we were having coffee, you’d know that I’ve spent the majority of my day preparing for my annual holiday series here on the blog!  Tis the Season started last year and I had so much fun with it that I decided to give it another go.  The holidays are all about coming together, and what better way to come together than host guest bloggers and share traditions?  I have a couple of really wonderful guest posts lined up, as well as a few of my own.  Stop by each day this week for a new post starting TOMORROW!

If we were having coffee, you’d know that I only have three days left of my job!  I’ve been working as the Interim Executive Director of my local Chamber of Commerce since October.  Although I really don’t enjoy the job much, I’ve been trying to maintain a positive attitude.  It’s been a great learning experience for me.  We hired a new Executive Director a few weeks ago, but she isn’t starting full time until January 4.  I’m currently working on training her and setting things up for a smooth transition.  I absolutely can’t wait to be done working there, but I’m thankful to have been able to work right until Christmas.

If we were having coffee, I’d let you know that I am not seeing the new Star Wars until Wednesday.  So no spoilers!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that in exactly a week from now, I’ll be in a minivan bound for St. Louis, Missouri .  I will be attending Urbana, the largest student missions conference in the world.  I’m interested in pursuing Christian ministry/missions as a career, so this conference is a great opportunity to learn more about the field and network.  It only happens every three years, so I’m thankful to catch it.  There will be over 16,000 people attending!  It’s going to be a powerful week.  I know many people who have attended this conference in the past and have told me that it’s life-changing.

If we were having coffee, I’d inquire about your plans for the holidays.  Are you traveling?  Do you have any special family plans?  Is there anything big on your Christmas list this year?  Tell me all about it in the comments and stay tuned for Tis the Season posts throughout the week.

P.S. Enjoy this Christmassy photo I took with my cat, Paco, whom I love dearly.

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A few visual changes

Several of the past few assignments for Blogging 101 have pertained to updating various visuals on your site–theme, widget, “About Me” page, etc.  So, I thought I’d write up some brief notes regarding changes happening around here.

As you can probably tell, Keep Your Feet has undergone a bit of a face-lift.  I’ve wanted to ditch the Hemingway Rewritten theme for quite some time.  The problem, however, was finding a theme that had a similar structure while matching my desired visual appeal.  It was a long search, but I finally landed on Gateway.  I’m extremely happy with the new look.  I feel like it captures my personality better than the old one.

Another assignment had to do with creating a custom header.  One of my favorite aspects of my old theme was that I had multiple headers that would switch from one page to another.  I liked the randomness of it all and felt like it enabled me to express multiple things about myself and my site–from golden leaves to a winter trail to a sunset and so on.  After much deliberation, I decided to do away with this and go with a static header.  I ended up going with a new image completely–a photo of myself and a friend in a secondhand bookstore.  The shot was taken last January and has been the cover photo of my Facebook page ever since.

What better captures the essence of Amelia (that's me) than a bookstore?
What better captures the essence of who I am than a shot of me in a bookstore reaching for a literary prize?

One thing I had never thought of that came up on the Blogging 101 emails was using PicMonkey to create a custom header.  I tinkered with the idea of further customizing the above image, but ended up staying with the automatic look that comes with the theme.  Maybe one of these days I’ll revisit the idea. What I DID get out of the header assignment was not a header, but static images to go with some of my features.  They’re not anything graphically astounding, but I’m rather pleased with them!

Blogging 101 has really been a delight and a challenge.  Although I’m kind of disappointed about not being able to gain access to the Commons (despite filling out the required form several times and making inquiries), I’ve really liked getting my site together.  It’s been fun getting to know people, find new blogs, and learn more about how WordPress works.  My blog has undergone lots of changes for the better over the past week and I’m excited to see what happens over the next couple weeks!

Changes

 

I’m the new resident of Spooner 315.

Things have been changing around here.  These past few days have been an absolute whirlwind.  It’s been physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausting and I’m still reeling from how quickly everything has happened.

The facts and reasons behind my sudden move across campus really aren’t important.  What IS important thing is that, from here on out, things are looking up.  It’s been weird picking up my life in the middle of the semester and starting afresh in a super single, especially since I’ve been out of the dorms since freshman year.  It’s definitely an adjustment.  But it’s a good adjustment.

I’m hoping life calms down from here.  Yes, I’m still overwhelmed with homework.  But I’m going to find a new routine, a new normal, and look forward to finishing strong.

Also, isn’t my new view great?

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Cleaning out the closet

It’s my first full day at home, and in light of the fact that I will be immobile due to wisdom teeth surgery tomorrow, I’m trying to get things cleaned.

Since returning from studying abroad a year ago, I haven’t been home for more than a week at a time.  Due to this, my bedroom has become a dumping ground, a corner to shove things in as I transition from place to place in life.  After a year, it’s gotten pretty out of hand.

The thing about cleaning out your closet is that I’m not only discovering things I didn’t know I had, but am relearning things about myself that you had forgotten.  Rifling through the pages of middle school notes, sketchbooks, and attempts at poetry make me feel like I am meeting the younger version of myself.  I’m finding things I used to be passionate about.  I discovered a couple passive aggressive letters my best friend wrote me in high school where she apologetically tells me everything she hates about me.  Reading through her words, I think about how much I have changed and wonder if, deep down, I’ve really changed at all.

Confronting my past is actually very useful because my main goal over break is to figure out what the future holds.

Sentimentality aside, it will be great to actually be able to use my closet, desk, and dresser again.  It’s a long process.  The main portion of my room is currently dirtier than it was when I began.  I’m covered in dust from pulling things from corners and shelves that haven’t been touched in years.  But progress is being made!  I dragged my younger brother with me to WalMart earlier this afternoon to buy organizers and I’ve put together three bags of old clothes to donate.

It sure will be great to have a clean room again!

When was the last time you cleaned out your closet?  Did you find anything surprising?

Shifting seasons

Once again, I find myself at the end of a year of school.  And, once again, this has put me in a reflective mood.  So much changes in a year, I cannot help but look back and see who I have become.

It’s funny, actually, how much changes in just a few days.  Just two days ago, I was submitting the last of my essays, working my final library shift, and savoring the last few hours with my friends.  Today, I found myself back in the orchard doing manual labor–hauling brush, mopping out the apple cooler, uncovering fields, that kind of thing.  In such a short period of time, my life is totally different from what it was.

This year, though… this year was tough.

The thing about life changing adventures is that, when you come back, nothing ever stays the same.  I knew that when I left for London.  A year ago, I knew that the Morris I left would not be the one I returned to.  And, although I was prepared, that didn’t change the fact that coming back was hard.  Old friends had left, new friends had come, and the friends that had kept me grounded for so long were no longer available.  Things smoothed out eventually, but all semester long I could not seem to bridge the gap that a semester in Europe had caused.  There was a lot of loneliness and uncertainty this school year.  There was enormous frustration–with myself, with my professors, with friends, with everything.  The frustration ate away at parts of me, especially the part of me that writes.  For most of the semester, I could barely pen a single word.  I wanted to badly to fit right back into the seam of Morris, to settle into my niche and take on the world.  But the problem is that I no longer fit into the space I once occupied.  I’ve grown and changed too much.  All I wanted (and still want) was to find that one place where people needed me, where I fit like a puzzle piece.  But, as much as I waited and waited and waited… it never happened.

Yes, it’s been a year of frustration, but it’s also been an incredible year of growth.  All the change, all the uncertainty, all the pushing and pulling have rendered me stronger, deeper, and more confident than I have ever been.  I understand this dark world so much better.  I got to meet parts of myself I didn’t even know existed.

Despite everything, it’s amazing how my love for my school grows every year.  What is it about such a tiny town on the middle of the Minnesota prairie that captures one’s heart so?  I love being an environment of intelligent, passionate people who strive to make a better world.  I love the wind turbines, the mall, and the sketchiness of the Bent and Dent.  I love the caring, flawed, wonderful people who are my friends.  I love the kindness of the professors, the spunk of the librarians, the wisdom of the spiritual teachers and mentors.  (However, I have no kind words for the wind.  And the winters.  Those can die horrible, miserable deaths for all I care.)

The past few weeks, I’ve been extremely restless.  When I left Morris a couple of days ago, I packed up and left as quickly as I could.  I can feel the seasons changing inside of me.  After months of sitting and waiting, I’m ready for something different, something new, something exciting.  When seasons change, I often mourn the loss of things that are passing.  This year, though, is different.  This time, I’m ready.  This summer is going to be a special one, and I can’t wait to find out what’s coming next.

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My last night in Morris was absolutely gorgeous, so I trekked to the wind turbines with a friend.