November in Review

Because I was a bad blogger and skipped out on October… here is my November Month in Review!

Month in Review blog heading

I. Blogging

November has been a good month.  Although I haven’t been writing like a maniac like my NaNoWriMo and NaNoBloPoMo friends, I definitely have been hanging out with my words.  The past few weeks have been filled with meaningful posts that I’m really proud of.  Be sure to read my comparison between apple farming and writing, my frustration at American responses to the refugee crisis, and musings from the shore of Lake Superior.  I also posted a poem that’s been sitting in my archives for over two years.  Be sure to check it out and let me know if I should put on my poet hat more often.

Looking ahead, I have an exciting December planned!  I hope to start posting book reviews again.  I also have a fun holiday-themed series coming up that I am going to need your help for!  Stay tuned for more details.

II. Books

This month, I was a literary fiend, tearing through books at an alarming rate.  I keep track of how many books I read each year on Goodreads.  In the past week, my count has exceeded 100–a personal record!

I’ve spent a LOT of time over the past two weeks binge-reading fluffy YA novels.  Rainbow Rowell is SO GOOD.  Marissa Meyer’s conclusion to her Lunar Chronicles series was incredibly satisfying (review coming soon!).  And, despite my love/hate relationship with Stephanie Perkins, I managed to eat up one of her novels in less than 24 hours.  (Oh, the beauty of Thanksgiving Break.)

Here’s a list of some of my reads:

  • Symphony of Ages trilogy by Elizabeth Haydon
  • Fangirl/Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
  • Seven Words of Power by James Maxwell
  • Winter by Marissa Meyer
  • Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
  • Pastrix by Nadia Bolz-Weber
  • Forgotten God by Francis Chan
  • Yes Please by Amy Pohler

III. Life

November was filled with unexpected twists and turns.

Things at work went from awful to not-so-bad.  Of course, once I finally get a firm grip on the job, it’s time to hand it off to someone else.  We managed to find a stellar candidate for the Executive Director position.  The hiring decision isn’t official yet, but will be in a week or so.  This means that my brief stint into Chamber of Commerce life is nearly over.  No tears are being shed over this.

Orchard season also came to a close.  We’ve been going strong since August, but finally reached the end.  It was a season for the record books–biggest crowds, biggest crops, biggest sales.  It was an exhausting, rewarding ride and I am happy to be done.  I do miss the physical work.  Hauling around 40 lb crates of fruit helped me stay in shape and I liked the monotony.  Still, having actual weekends is an absolute dream!

This month, I celebrated my twenty third birthday by enjoying a shopping spree with my mom at the Mall of America.  I spent WAY too much money, but have worn my purchases (a sweater, new pants, some scarves) enough times to make it more than worthwhile.

I hung out with friends quite a bit.  My high school buddies and I had a movie night, where they introduced me to The Sandlot.  Now whenever my mom exasperates me, I can knowingly retort, “You’re killin’ me, Smalls!”  My friend, Kassandra, and I had a delightful brunch at a cafe in St. Paul a few weeks back and I was reunited with my long-time friend, Holly, who made the trip from Washington D.C. to spend Thanksgiving with her family.  My study abroad friend, Maddie, came up from her now-home Minneapolis and we spent a memorable afternoon closing up the orchard, wandering around Taylors Falls, and discussing music, politics, and spirituality.

I managed to escape home for a night by accompanying my mom and brother to Duluth, where they had work meetings.  While there, I had some quality me-time strolling along the lakeshore.  That afternoon, we went to a press conference and I got to shake hands with a U.S. Congressman, which was pretty cool.

Finally, the most unexpected thing of all happened in the form of an opening to live and study at a ministry in England.  If you had told me a month ago that I’d be returning to the U.K., I would have laughed in your face.  It’s amazing what a few short weeks can do!  I’m not really sure what to expect from this adventure, but I’m having a lot of fun dreaming about it.  Who knows if I’ll ever come home?

That wraps up my Month in Review!  As always, thanks for reading.

Adjustments

I’ve been reading a lot lately… as in I just read a fantasy trilogy that is 2,000+ pages in just over a week.  (Yes, I’m insane.)  It’s easy to get lost in a world that exists only in your head.  You just turn the page and turn the page and turn the page until… well, until there are no more pages.

Books have been very important to me as I’ve adjusted to my new job.  They’ve given me the chance to step out of my position and into someone else’s shoes.  You see, I’m so tired of feeling physical stress coursing through my body.  I’m tired of not knowing what my duties are because I’m only half trained and have no supervisor.  I’m tired of dreading Monday.  I’m tired of being pessimistic and crabby.  These things aren’t ME.

Adjusting to changes takes time.  I’m on my way, but not quite there yet.  Hey–at least I’m no longer bursting into tears over my breakfast cereal.

One of the best pieces of career advice I’ve ever received was from one of my professors while studying abroad.  She was a quirky little Irish lady with spring-like brown curls and I adored her class.  One day, while in her office getting help on a paper, she said: “It’s okay to not know what you want to do.  The important thing is finding out what you DON’T want to do and go from there.”  (For her, the number one thing to avoid were jobs that required hair nets.)

With this in mind, my new job is very illuminating.  In addition to all the professional skills I’m developing, I’m learning a lot about what I don’t want in a job.  I don’t want to be in an office alone–I need a job where other people are involved.  I don’t want to work in a Chamber of Commerce.  I don’t want to own a business.  I don’t want to do anything that involves finances.  I want a job where I report to a boss, receive proper training, and am given clear expectations.  I want a job with structure–with a checklist of tasks and responsibilities, with a set start and end time.

My mom is starting to ride me about figuring out what to do next.  Which doesn’t do much for my stress load.  I genuinely want to move on.  But I feel like I’m not free to do that until we find a new Executive Director… which could take some time.

So I lose myself in the pages of books.  I spend my evenings in someone else’s mind.  I breathe in, breathe out, and wait for the day I’m adjusted enough that I no longer need to escape.

I’ll get there someday.

Weekend Coffee Share: Tired, Overwhelmed, and The Oh Hellos

If we were having coffee, you’d know right away that I am a mess.  My week was awful.

You see, I’m not a crier.  I’ll go for months and months without shedding a tear.  This doesn’t mean I’m not emotional–I definitely am.  My emotions just don’t manifest in tears very often.

That being said, I’ve had FOUR meltdowns this week.

Three happened in my car.  The first of these took place after the first training session for my new job.  The second was this morning on the way to church.  The third was an hour or so ago on my way home from church.  The other sob-fest happened over my bowl of Rice Krispies cereal on Tuesday morning.

As I said, I am a mess.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that my new job is proving more stressful than anticipated.  I’ve finally got most of the day-to-day things under control, so my time in the office goes fairly smoothly.  But there is so much I don’t know or understand.  I have zero experience with finances, bills, invoices, payments, etc.  And, suddenly, I need to know how to do all of these things.  The people who are supposedly there to help me have proved only marginally useful.

I spent the entire week doing my best to stay positive and keep afloat.  Two of my nights were sleepless ones.  The while time, I thought that, if I could just get to the weekend, everything would be okay.  HA.  JOKE’S ON ME.

On Friday, I had to go in for my second training session while the rest of my family went to the movies.  Which TOTALLY sucked.  My little brother was home from college and I wanted to spend time with him.  I got to the office a bit before seven, as planned.  At 7:08, I got a text from the lady training me (who used to be in my position) saying she would be there by 7:30.  She didn’t end up getting there until almost eight o’clock.  Which meant I spent an HOUR of my Friday night sitting alone in a cold office playing games on my iPhone because I forgot to bring a book.  Because of her tardiness, we weren’t able to cover all the information and now have to meet again on Tuesday evening.

So that all sucks.

If we were having coffee, you’d know that my fourth and final meltdown of the week happened because I almost got into a car accident on my way home from church this morning.  But thinking about that just makes me more depressed, so we won’t go into details.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I saw the band The Oh Hellos live on Thursday.  It was, by far, the highlight of my whole week.  The show was INCREDIBLE.

The first opener was a band called Family & Friends and it was obvious that it was their first tour.  You could feel their enthusiasm oozing from the stage.  Their expressions were wild and excited and you couldn’t help feel it too.  It energized the whole crowd and set the tone for the entire night. When the headliner finally took the stage, we were all screaming before they played a single note.

If I could transport myself into the past, I’d go back to being in that crowd on Thursday.  It wasn’t very relaxing, but boy it was fun.  My friend and I let loose and went crazy.  We sang along to all the words we knew.  We cheered.  We raised our hands and clapped.  I completely let loose and danced, jumping and flailing awkwardly, losing myself in the music.  Gosh, it was a blast.

You see, The Oh Hellos are a phenomenal band.  They make music not for profit, but because they’re passionate.  Their passion is evident in every note.  Their music is clearly rooted in Christian faith, but they’re not a Christian band.  Their instrumentals are rich and flavorful and all the songs have deep, sophisticated lyrics.  I’d gush about how awesome they are more, but it might be better to write about them in other posts.  (So stay tuned for that.)

So, yeah.  Aside from going to the show, it’s been a pretty crappy week.  On the bright side, things can’t get much worse.  If you don’t mind, I’m going to go curl up under a blanket with a comfort book and go into hermit-mode during the remainder of my day off.  Later, though, I’ll come back on WordPress and would really love to hear how your week has been.  What would you share over coffee?

The Oh Hellos during the finale of their set.  SO GOOD.
The Oh Hellos during the finale of their set. SO GOOD.

This post is part of a link-up at Part Time Monster

Disorganization is the Worst

I started a new job this week… oh boy is it stressful.

My first training session was 2.5 hours from 7-9:30 PM.  My predecessor essentially sat me down, showed me programs on the computer, and told me stuff.  Aside from lists of computer passwords and such, there was little to no organization.  No concrete list of “These Are Your Tasks”.  Just a bunch of do this, do that, call this person, figure this out.  Here you go, Amelia.  Have at it.

My brain needs structure in order to understand things.  Throwing information at me and plunging me into a situation does nothing but render me overwhelmed and stressed.  I got home at ten and went straight to bed.  It took me until midnight to fall asleep, mostly because I gave up trying and transported myself to another planet reading Andy Weir’s The Martian until midnight.  Even after that, I didn’t sleep much.

Since the job was left vacant three weeks ago, an overwhelming amount of emails, phone messages, and mail have been piling up that need to be addressed ASAP.  However, in my current semi-trained state, I don’t feel comfortable or confident addressing half of these things.

So I am going to do what my brain knows best: compartmentalize and prioritize.  My first priority is making sure I’m up to speed and comfortable with the various software and programs.  Once that’s done, I’ll figure out what needs to be done NOW.  I’ll make lists of what I don’t know and save the rest for another day.

My goal is, by the end of the job in a couple of months, to add some organization.  If I can get to a point where I can make a concrete list of daily, weekly, and monthly tasks, I’ll be satisfied.

Now on to actually making sense of the chaos.  Wish me luck!

Weekend Coffee Share: New Jobs and College Visits

If we were having coffee, we’d be bundled up in sweaters sitting outside.  The world is a painting of reds, golds, and browns–the leaves are just past the peak of color and are starting to fall.  I’d suggest taking a walk to enjoy the crisp air and crunch of leaves under our feet.  If your hands are cold, bring your cup with you.  It will keep you warm!

If we were having coffee, I’d let you know that I HAVE A NEW JOB!  You are now looking at (or rather, reading the words of) the new Interim Director of my community’s Chamber of Commerce.  Of course, the job isn’t permanent.  It’s only for a couple of months while the Chamber looks for a new Executive Director.  I’m just there to fill in and give the board of directors time to find a good fit for the position.

The frustrating thing, though, is I hope to start tomorrow and still have no idea what the job looks like.  I know I’ll be addressing the emails, phone messages, and mail that have come in over the past few weeks.  I know there are meetings I’ll have to attend–mostly to take notes.  I know that I now have keys to the building and a desk in the old Historical Society building.  But I don’t know what my days will actually look like.

My goal is to meet with the former Executive Director sometime in the next couple of days in order to learn the job.  The problem is, she’s not a very competent communicator and doesn’t really understand what I want from her.  She keeps texting my mom (who is the Vice President of the board) about it.  Mom passed her my contact information so she and I can figure it out… but clearly she’s stressed and confused because she hasn’t actually contacted ME yet.

It will all come together.  Hopefully we will be able to meet.  If not, I’m pretty good at figuring things out.  If all else fails, I’ll go to the office tomorrow (after all, I DO have the key), poke around for a few hours, and hope the info I need is lurking in a desk drawer or computer file.

If we were having coffee, you would know that I visited my college town for the first time as an alumni!  I didn’t think I’d be making the trip to Morris any time soon, but my old Bible study co-leader organized a retreat for the group and asked if I would be able to come as a guest speaker.  My old roommate, Alli, and I founded this Bible study four years ago and it was one of my favorite parts of college.

Selfie with everyone at Pomme de Terre Park, featuring the signature Morris wind turbines that provide energy to campus.

The retreat took place at someone’s house.  I was delighted to find that almost everyone in attendance were original members of the group.  We had art night on Friday–which was a fun exploration of acrylic paint and Canadian rom-coms.  On Saturday, we ate meals together, went on a prayer walk in Pomme de Terre Park, and watched Friends on Netflix.  Alli and I gave our talks, which both went well.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that my trip to Morris has me feeling incredibly blessed.  As an introvert, I find that the best kind of people are the ones I can be with for hours without feeling drained.  Hanging out with these girls was like that.  I’m not close friends with anyone in the group, but that really didn’t matter.  We’ve spent so much time throughout the years laughing, making memories, and discussing faith that friendship comes naturally.  Being together again felt just like old times.  I can’t remember the last time I laughed as hard as I did.

My faith hasn’t been flourishing since leaving Morris in May.  It hasn’t been growing, but it hasn’t been receding.  I know that there are lots of important things going on that I can’t see right now.  This weekend was a wonderful reminder that God has big things ahead and I’m right where I need to be.

Now the time has come to turn things over to you.  How has your week been?  What would you share over coffee?

This post is part of a link-up at Part Time Monster