Farewell, Summer

I’ve always loved the idea of summer more than summer itself.  When I think of summer, I think of possibilities.  Maybe I’ve read too many YA novels, where the season often represents an idyllic in-between time when anything is possible.  Maybe that’s why I love YA novels so much.  Everything in your life can change between May and September.

Benjamin Alire Sáenz describes it this way in his book Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe:

I loved and hated summers. Summers had a logic all their own and they always brought something out in me. Summer was supposed to be about freedom and youth and no school and possibilities and adventure and exploration. Summer was a book of hope. That’s why I loved and hated summers. Because they made me want to believe.”

In reality, summers are less glamorous.  They’re hot, humid, and don’t even get me started on the mosquitos!  Growing up on an apple orchard, summer meant long hours of tedious farm labor: crawling up and down ladders and digging up weeds in the dirt.  Even when I worked as a camp counselor and the season was everything it’s promised to be, I never got enough sleep, was perpetually dirty, and there were always campers to care for.

Every year, I go into the warm months with rose-tinted glasses.  I’m filled with so many ideas for all the people I will see and adventures we will have.  Every year, I reach the middle of August and realize all I did was sit at home, mow the lawn, and read a lot of books.

This summer, though, I wanted things to be different.

This summer, I wanted to believe.

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Hitting Pause at L’Abri

I didn’t realize how exhausted I was until I arrived at L’Abri.  For the past six months, I’ve been going so hard that I didn’t even notice that I’ve been functioning on empty for weeks.  As I neared the end of my summer classes, when I thought about how I wanted to celebrate reaching the halfway point of my master’s degree, the only place I could think of was L’Abri.  I’m drawn to this place in times of weariness; when the world is heavy, frustrating, and confusing.  Here, in this little refuge overlooking the city of Rochester, I always find peace and rest.  This weekend was no exception.

It’s been months since I’ve done any kind of life-update on my blog, so let me catch you up to speed on what’s been happening in Amelia-land.  First, let me show you where I’m writing.  Imagine yourself with me at this table, a mug of tea in hand, enjoying the golden hour as I ramble on.

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New Year, New Semester: A Brief Update

A New Years post at the end of January?  Amelia, shouldn’t you have posted this weeks ago?  Yes, yes I should have.  However, life, school, and laziness has kept me away from my blog.  Better late than never, right?

My second semester of graduate school is underway and I’m sitting here wondering, WHERE did my winter break go?!  And why didn’t I do any writing during my time off?!

Since I’ve been hard-core neglecting my blog, here’s a brief recap of things in Amelia land:

  • I finished my first semester of grad school just before the holidays and managed straight A’s!
  • The holidays were a busy, but wonderful time with family
  • I applied and interviewed for a librarian position within my current system that is much closer to where I live, but didn’t get it.  When the choice is between you and a former library director with 30 years of experience, there’s not much of a choice.  But, since breaking the bad news to me, my supervisor has asked me to be on a number of new committees, which is exciting!
  • I read a ridiculous amount of books
  • I spent a wonderful weekend at a friend’s cabin in northern Wisconsin

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Farewell, 2017

We’ve hit the season when everyone reflects on what has occurred during the past year and dreams of the year to come.  I am no exception.

What strikes me, though, is time’s beautiful ability to slip elegantly from one minute to one day to one year.  Tomorrow may be a new year, but take away the countdowns, the parties, the reflection, it is simply a new day.  Just as today was a new day.  I love that.

It is difficult to pinpoint the significance of 2017.  Before, each year had deep meaning, filled with momentous occasions and deep soul searching.  2015 was the year I finished college, filled with questions and striving.  2016 was the year I trekked across Europe and stumbled into my life’s work.

But 2017?  I suppose it is an extension of all the years before, as if all the momentous occasions, questions, journeys, and stumbles were leading to what I am doing now: living day by day, moment by moment.

This year, I continued life in the small town library where I work.  I experienced my first Summer Reading Program, started a Lego Club, and continued building relationships with my patrons.

This year, I applied, was accepted, and began graduate school online through the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.  Grad school is not easy, but it’s taught me to make time for self-care and that sanity is more important than grades.  This attitude helped me get through my first semester with my sanity and GPA in tact.  Already, pursing my Masters in Library and Information Science has helped improve my skills and understanding of my work.  While I frequently whine and complain about the stress of my studies, I am deeply thankful for this opportunity.

This year, I continued living with my parents.  All year, I have bounced back and forth.  Should I move closer to work?  Do I want to live in that community?  Is it worth it to continue driving an hour to work and back each day?  I’m still struggling with these questions.  While I like living with my parents, I’m ready to be on my own.  But I have absolutely no desire to live in the community where I work and cannot afford to both pay rent and continue commuting.  This is something I’ll continue to wrestle with as the new year comes.

This year, I made new friends and continued walking with old ones.  From road trip buddies to coffee shop chats monthly letters, I am extremely blessed in the friendship department and am so, so thankful.

This year, my faith journey brought me somewhere between the desert and the river valley.  I’m attending church again and am encouraged by friendships, but still feel like I’m walking alone.  In college, my faith journey was wild, frantic, and I pursued the path with relentless passion.  My faith has changed dramatically since then.  I’ve evened out.  I’ve simultaneously rejected the fundamentalism of my upbringing while holding firmly to my spiritual beliefs and heritage.  I’m calmer now.  I continue to study, but I hold my faith with open hands.  I long to be a person of high character, quietly bettering the world around me, letting my actions speak louder than my words.  2017 was a step in that direction.

This year, I spent each day with Wendell Berry.  As part of my devotions each morning, I ended by reading one of his Sabbath poems.  Of all my routines, this was my favorite.  Morning by morning, his words brought me into still forests, quiet fields, and sunlit meadows.  I reached the end of the book in October and went right back to the beginning.

This year, I continued my never ending love affair with the written word.  Thanks to audiobooks during my long commute and a deepening passion for YA, I blew past my previous reading records, making it through 212 books in a mere 12 months.  For more about my reading year, check out my previous post.

I suppose, in light of all these things, 2017 was a pretty good year.  (Minus the dumpster fires of national politics and natural disasters, of course.)  I grew, I worked, I learned.  What more can one ask for?

Tonight, when the clock strikes twelve, we will slip elegantly into a 2018.  Where will this year take us?  What decisions will I make?  What people will I meet?  What places will I go?  What words will I be writing one year from now?  I haven’t the slightest clue, and that is a very exciting thing.

Whoever you are, wherever you may be, I wish you a very happy New Year!

Staying Sane: A Grad School Update

I realize I’ve been neglecting my blog of late…  So hey, let’s chat.

In September, I started my first semester of graduate school.  I’m taking classes online through the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee to get a Masters in Library and Information Science.  Going into it, I knew that grad school would be a challenge.  But, of course, there’s a difference between knowing something intellectually and knowing it experientially.  As someone who has half a semester under their belt, I can attest that grad school is HARD.

It’s not the work itself that is challenging.  I mean, yeah, it’s hard.  But it’s grad school.  High standards are to be expected.  For the most part, I think I’m keeping up just fine.  I understand the coursework, participate in discussions with my classmates, and have pulled decent enough grades on my assignments thus far.

The most difficult part about grad school has been finding time to actually do the work and still maintain a shred of sanity.  I’ve already had two emotional breakdowns this semester, which is two more than my entire career as an undergraduate.

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Weekend Coffee Share 6/17/17

If we were having coffee, we’d be sitting on my front patio in the beautiful morning sunlight.  I’d probably be in my pajamas groggily drinking my morning tea and watching my new kittens scamper around.

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Yes, I have new kittens!  I got them yesterday from one of my patrons at the library.  There are two girls–one calico and one grey–and they are adorable!  I already love them so much!  They’re to be outdoor kitties.  Last night, I got them set up in their new cat house.  They’re still adjusting to the new surroundings–they freak out if one of our other cats comes near them.  But they’re starting to play and explore in our flower gardens, so it’s only a matter of time for them to be settled.   I don’t have names for them yet–any suggestions? Continue reading

Weekend Coffee Share 5/20/17

If we were having coffee, we’d be bundled up in sweaters with our mugs clutched closely to our chests.  It’s been rainy and cold this week–good for reading and sleeping, bad for all the farmers who have work to be done.  I had picked out a colorful spring outfit to wear to work this morning, but the moment I stepped out of bed my body was like, “NOPE.”  So it’s back to cozy sweaters.

I’ve got a busy weekend ahead of me.

This afternoon, I’ll be getting coffee with a dear friend who recently returned from three months in England.  She stayed at the same ministry, L’Abri, that I did a year ago.  I’m excited to hear about her experience and gush about how much we miss it. Continue reading

Weekend Coffee Share: 5/14/17

If we were having coffee, we’d be sitting on a blanket in the sun.  Spring is finally in full swing here in Minnesota and I am loving every moment!  I’d be sipping my usual mocha–what would you be having?

May is quickly slipping away… I can’t believe the month is half done already!

Today is Mother’s Day!  My parents have been away for most of the weekend enjoying fishing opener at a friend’s cabin up north.  They’ll be coming home later this morning.  My siblings are home for the weekend and we’ll be enjoying a nice brunch.  It’s not often that we’re all together.  With vacations, work, one brother doing an internship in North Carolina for the summer, we probably won’t be together for a while.

My family’s apple orchard is in full bloom!  We’ll be opening it to the public for a special Mother’s Day walk later this afternoon.  I hope lots of people come–it’s one of the prettiest times of the year.

It’s been a pretty quiet week.  I had shopping plans with a friend yesterday, but she cancelled, so I decided to go alone.  I spent WAY too much money… but really needed a new dress for all the weddings I’m attending this summer.

At work, I’ve been busy getting ready for our Summer Reading Program.  I’ll be away on vacation when the program officially starts, so I’m getting the pieces together.  While I know it’s going to be a busy summer with kids coming in, I’m excited for all the fun programs.  I’m doing preschool storytime, a marshmallow engineering event, a stuffed animal sleepover, and am starting a Lego Club.

Aside from family time, I plan to spend the rest of my weekend soaking in the sunshine.  I’ll be mowing the lawn this afternoon and will hopefully go for a hike tomorrow (I don’t work on Mondays).

That’s all I’ve got today… what have you been up to this week?  Do you have any Mother’s Day plans?  What would you share over coffee?

This post is part of the Weekend Coffee Share link up, hosted by Nerd in the Brain.

Weekend Coffee Share: 5/7/17

If we were having coffee, we’d be in my local coffee shop again, which has become a bit of a refuge for me on Sundays.  I’d be wrapped in a cozy sweater sipping my usual mocha and smiling sleepily at you.

How am I doing?  At the moment, I’m really tired and in a bit of pain… I’m recovering from yesterday’s adventures.

Short version: I got up at 6:30 AM, went to work, hiked 7.5 miles, went white water rafting, and got home at 11:30 PM.  It was an absolute blast, but my body is definitely in recovery.

Long version: You see, a friend invited me to go white water rafting yesterday evening.  The location is two hours away and the town I work in is right in the middle of that route.  It didn’t make sense to drive an hour home only to drive two hours again, so I spent my afternoon at a state park.  The park was beautiful–featuring a river with roaring rapids and endless woods where spring has only just begun to visit.  Stupidly, I decided to take the longest hike possible.  Three miles in, I realized I had bitten off more than I could chew, but it was too late to go back… so I powered through. Continue reading

Weekend Coffee Share 4/23/17

If we were having coffee, we’d be sitting at a table by the window at my local coffee shop overlooking the lake.  The sun is shining, but do not be deceived!  It is colder outside than it looks.  As I write to you today, I actually AM at my local coffee shop.  Much to the chagrin of my family, our internet is down for the weekend.

Today is super exciting because it’s Shakespeare’s 453rd birthday!!  Someday, when I’m on my own with a circle of friends who live near me, I want to host annual birthday parties for the Bard.  I think it would be so much fun to have themed snacks, games, trivia, and readings.  For now, though, I’ll just reminisce about the time I toured his house in Stratford-Upon-Avon and watch the adaptation of Twelfth Night I rented from the library.  Do you have a favorite Shakespeare play or poem?

At my library this week, we had a MASSIVE donation!  A man brought in ten large boxes of books!  My Friday had been shaping up to be pretty boring, so I was thankful for something concrete to do.  I spent most of my afternoon sorting books by size, genre, and author.  Our sale area has been pretty pathetic lately, so it was really nice to fill it up with good books.

I took Saturday off work so I could get out and enjoy Earth Day!  It was a beautiful day–so sunny and warm that I got to wear shorts.  I planned attending my local March for Science, but arrangements fell through at the last minute.  So I instead went for a long hike at a local state park and thoroughly enjoyed being out in this beautiful world we live in.

Today, I’m feeling a bit under the weather.  I don’t know if it was all the exercise I had yesterday (I spent an hour helping my mom in her garden in addition to the hike) or the cooking at the fundraiser breakfast we went to after church, but my stomach isn’t feeling too great.  Around noon, I did something uncharacteristic and took a nap.  I normally don’t attempt sleep in the day, but today I definitely needed it.

How was your week?  What would you share over coffee?

This post is part of the Weekend Coffee Share link up, now hosted by Nerd in the Brain.

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I found these tiny lovelies on my Earth Day hike!