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.

Weekend Coffee Share: Life is Looking Up

If we were having coffee, it means I’m emerging from another hermit stage.  In all the changes over the past month, I’ve become a recluse, hardly seeing or reaching out to anyone besides my parents.  I’ve definitely been tossing my blogging schedule out the window, but I just didn’t have the will to sit and write.  Plus, I didn’t want my readers to drown in my negative attitude.  So, although I continued writing in private, my posts have been limited.

Thankfully, things are looking up.  I’m here again in the metaphysical coffee shop with you, ready to talk.

If we were having coffee, you’d know that orchard season is finally over!  Yesterday was our last day.  In many ways, it was a wonderful season.  All our records were smashed–we had the biggest crowds, biggest harvest, biggest sales.  My family is really thankful for all the people who came out this year, but oh boy…  We are exhausted.  It’s been a long haul, working six days a week for the past three months.  I’m really looking forward to having normal weekends and a manageable schedule again.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that my birthday on Tuesday was an absolute blast.  Although I spent the first half working, I took the afternoon off.  My mom and I went shopping at the Mall of America, where we both spent WAY too much money.  It was good, though.  I got new pants, a sweater, and some really pretty scarves.  We had dinner at a fancy restaurant, where they gave me free cake.  At home, I unwrapped gifts, which included a vintage typewriter!  The ribbon is very faint, so I can’t use it at the moment, but what a perfect gift for a blossoming writer.  I’m excited to put it to good use.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you about how my new job as Interim Director of my local Chamber of Commerce is going well and there is an end in sight.  I finally have the day-to-day tasks figured out and the chronic anxiety is ebbing.  We had a Board of Directors meeting last week, where everyone was really kind and encouraging.  Despite feeling under-qualified and constantly stressed, I seem to be doing a good job.

That being said, we’ve been interviewing candidates for the Executive Director position and I think we’ve found the perfect one.  If all goes well in the hiring process, I will pass the torch over to her in December.  Which means there is light at the end of the tunnel on my end!

If we were having coffee, you’d learn a secret: My next big adventure might be just around the corner.  No decisions have been finalized, but I’ve been exploring international possibilities.  If things go well (and people actually return my emails), returning to Europe might be closer than I ever dreamed was possible.  I’ll give more details as plans become solidified.

In the meantime, it feels so good to have a sense of direction again!

Now it’s time to pass things over to you.  What would you share over coffee?

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

Whimsy & Climbing Mountains

Some days, the future feels like a looming, messy mountain that I don’t know how to climb.  I’ve been in a period of transition for the past six months–suspended between one area of life and another.  There are so many roads, so many possibilities, and the constant pressure to know my route.  “What are you doing now that you’ve graduated college, Amelia?”  “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  “When are you going to have things figured out?”  I do my best to push aside the uncertainties, but some days it just eats at me.

Today, though, the future feels whimsical.  I don’t know where life will lead me.  I’m not planning it out.  My strategy is to take things one step at a time, starting with this day.   If I can figure out the now, I can cross the next bridge when I come to it.

This evening, my mom and I had some quality Mother/Daughter time.  We went shopping, saw a movie in theaters, and had dinner at a restaurant.  It was so much fun to get away from work and just soak in life.  The drive home brought deep conversations about life, faith, and the future.  Our talk got the gears turning in my mind, which lead me to writing this post.

Recently, I came across the following quote:

“Whimsy doesn’t care if you are the driver or the passenger; all that matters is that you are on your way.” Bob Goff, Love Does

There are a lot of great things happening in my life right now.  Tomorrow, I attend a board meeting that will solidify my first big girl/real adult job.  It’s not a full-time position, nor is it permanent.  It’s a a door that has opened unexpectedly–I didn’t apply for it…  It just sort of happened. But it’s perfect opportunity to gain professional skills and get me from one place to the next.

The future is still there and it is still very much unknown.  But right now, the mountain doesn’t seem so daunting.  From where I’m standing, the mountain is beautiful and I’m starting to see the path.  I can’t wait to lace up my boots and start climbing.

There are so many things I’m unsure of.  But I know one thing: I’m on my way.

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I’m normally not a taker of selfies, but yesterday was so sunny and lovely I couldn’t help myself. (Also, it was a good hair day, which is rare.)

Here’s the scoop (on a non-sucky weekend in Morris)

So… if you keep yourself occupied enough and plan in advance, weekends in Morris don’t suck as much as they normally do.

My Bible study girls night on Friday was a success!  Thanks for all the encouragement, dear readers!  We had a good turnout, great fellowship, and our toenails are sporting all kinds of flashy colors.  (Mine are golden.)  We also watched Napoleon Dynamite, which was like a massive flashback to middle school.  (Vote for Pedro, anyone?)  My hostessing, in case you were wondering, was certainly as awkward as it always is, but everyone was pretty good-natured about it.  Thank goodness!

On Saturday afternoon, the International Student Association organized a celebration called the Festival of Colors.  The event was to celebrate the Hindu holiday of Holi, which celebrates springtime, good triumphing over evil, and community.  The problem is that Holi is a springtime holiday, so celebrating it now is like suddenly moving Christmas to August or Easter to October.  Personally, I think the oversight in the original event planning shows a lack of cultural awareness.  But they later remedied it and marketed it just as a color festival.

My roommate Katie and I attended and, boy, what a fun half an hour!  It was a free for all of water balloon tossing, bucket dumping, and (of course) throwing colorful powder!  We got covered in all kinds of colors!

Katie and I after the Festival of Colors.
Katie and I after the Festival of Colors.

For some reason, even though it’s now officially Autumn, the ghost of Summer has come back with a vengeance.  The weather the past few days has been absolutely glorious!  To celebrate (and get out of the apartment), I organized the few friends that didn’t go home for the weekend and we walked to Dairy Queen for ice cream!  We then went to a friends’ house for pizza and movies.  (And, being the oh-so-mature college students that we are, we went for Disney’s Mulan.)

This morning, I was all geared up for attending early church.  I got up at eight, did my daily hang out with Jesus, showered, dressed up and then… then I see the note from Katie (who was out late at a video game party) asking if we can go to the later service.  Normally, I’d get annoyed by the sudden change of plans, but not today!  I briefly considered using the two hours I now had to do homework or finish my painting project.  But instead I decided to curl back up and enjoy an extra hour of sleep.

Also, there’s something about being one of the last people to leave church that is extremely gratifying.  I’ve been attending my church here in Morris for four years and always felt like a passer-through.  But I’ve been doing a Bible study with adults from the community on Monday nights, so I’ve actually had the chance to get to know people of my congregation.  Thus, I actually had people aside from my college friends (who like to duck out as fast as they can) to talk with!  I was so deep in conversation with one lady that Katie (who drove with me) ditched me and rode home with our friends.  I didn’t mind–it just meant I could talk longer without feeling guilty!

This evening, in light of the final hurrah of Summer, my friend Neala and I walked to the wind turbines.  You see, that is what we do in Morris.  We have movie marathons and we walk to the two wind turbines that fuel campus.  It’s a long walk–takes about twenty minutes to get to the overlook and a full half hour to get to the turbines.  We didn’t make it all the way, but settled in an arbor in the community gardens to talk and get out of the heat.  We wandered about the gardens, talking about post graduation plans, Neala’s upcoming eleven-month missions trip, what books we’re currently reading, and how much we hate the recent seasons of Doctor Who.  (It’s always refreshing to find someone who loathes Moffat’s story writing as much as I do!)  We then grabbed dinner and parted ways!

It’s been a surprisingly good weekend!

Did you do anything interesting or exciting?

P.S. My friend Neala is fantastic at taking photos…

Photo by my friend, Neala!
Photo by my friend, Neala!