College Lessons and Things

Bluebonnets & The Past Year

Today, I was driving to work and saw bluebonnets for the first time this year. It made me think of the first time I saw bluebonnets last year: right after the coronavirus pandemic started in Texas. My coworkers and I were sent to work from home for a few weeks; we were home until early May. The city and county in which I reside went into a shelter-in-place that was expected to last two weeks; various versions of these orders were in place until the Governor rescinded them last week. Restaurants and retailers closed “until we get it under control;” it took a few weeks until most restaurants and stores reopened with curbside options and some aren’t still fully reopened. It wasn’t exactly the “few” weeks we planned; even now planning more than a few days in advance feel futile. I digress.

Back to bluebonnets. During the work-from-home phase of the pandemic, I went into the office a couple of times. The first day we were expected to be home, the communications team went into the office to begin to build resources, make statements about canceled events and make a plan for how we could work from home; that was St. Patrick’s Day 2020. The next time I drove to the office, a few weeks later, the spring issue of our quarterly magazine was finished at the printer and I met Keith to unload the boxes; I’m pretty sure those boxes are still in the work room where we left them. And on one of those days, I saw bluebonnets by the highway.

Bluebonnets hold some magic for Texans because we’re very proud to learn all kinds of random facts about Texas in school (something I’ve heard isn’t super common in other states). And one of the things we learn is that bluebonnets are our state flower. When we’re in elementary school we ready books about how bluebonnets came to be (and how it’s illegal to pick them; I honestly can’t tell you if that’s true or not, but it’s an ingrained fact in my brain). And every year in the spring, seemingly overnight, they spring up from the ground for a few weeks. Parents take endlessly cute pictures of their kids in the fields of flowers. Dog-parents take adorable pictures of their dog-children. We take pictures of random fields and medians near highways and in wildflower-designated areas of parks and add them to our collection of other random bluebonnet pictures. We share them on social media and all the pictures look unique and the same and we love every one.

Anyway. Last year, when I saw them for the first time, they felt like a beacon of normalcy. They come up every year, without fail, all across the state. Somehow, it made driving on the nearly empty roads and passing sparsely populated parking lots and buildings feel less lonely and foreign and weird.

This year, they felt hopeful. It’s been a long year. We’ve seen deep failings of our leaders. We’ve seen some of the worst in people and their capacity for selfish behavior and misdirected anger. And we’ve seen great capacity for love. We’ve watched communities come together to protect and support their neighbors. We’ve seen medical professionals, educators, frontline workers and more do their best to keep our communities safe, healthy and on track for a smooth recovery.

I’m thankful that we have a reason for hope. That vaccines are working their way around and hopefully soon our world will return to normal. And I’m thankful for bluebonnets for reminding us that the world keeps moving. In some ways, it’s scary to be reminded how small we are. However, today, I was thankful. I was thankful that the world keeps spinning and we keep moving forward. And I was thankful for the reminder this morning.

Adult Life

Thoughts on the Inauguration

The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it

Amanda Gorman, The Hill We Climb

Today was a long day and there is still so much work to be done. But, tonight, I am proud to be an American. Tonight, I am proud that we got to watch the work of organizers and activists come to fruition and I am hopeful.

Today, I watched the first inauguration that I was emotionally invested in. (I have vague memories of watching President Obama’s ceremonies, or highlights, at school, but it didn’t leave a lasting impact.) I watched the pomp and circumstance and I was proud. I was proud that for the first time in American history, a woman would stand and be sworn in. I was proud listening to President Biden’s speech about unity and a commitment to the truth.

And I am hopeful. I’m hopeful that our government and leadership will come into their power humbly and know the impact of their words. I am hopeful that our nation, so divided, will find a way to grow together and be the light. I’m hopeful that people will begin to treat each other with more kindly and curiosity and less animosity and anger.

There is still work to be done. But tonight, I will sleep peacefully have hope for tomorrow. It’s a new beginning.

At the start of 2021, I reflected on 2020 and my goals and plans for the new year. I decided to keep them vague, but one of them was a commitment to writing more. And, upon reflection, I decided I needed a word to mediate on and center me this year, with the intention of manifesting it into my life. I chose hope. This has already been an unprecedented and wild year, but I continue to be hopeful. May today be a turning point for our country and our community.

College Lessons and Things

Trial by Virus

Tonight was class 2!

First, I have to say, it is one of the coolest things I’ve ever decided to do. People from around the world show up, and we sit and talk together. Technology is really cool, guys.

Tonight, we talked about the whole of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, especially in the context of our current situation. Brace yourself for some weird connections.

One of the things we talked about was the scene with troll and how it really solidifies the trio as friends (the movies don’t really do the scene justice, but the movies don’t do a lot of things justice, so no judgement). In a bigger context, this is sort of our “Troll moment” as a society. Our current predicament is dramatically different than anything we’ve faced as a world and we don’t know what’s next or if we’ll even be successful, almost like three 11-year-olds with about two months of magical training (that just hit me) fighting a mountain troll. But there’s something to be said that we’re trying. The current climate is volatile and unpredictable, but through it all relationships are triumphing. People are scared and tired, but they’re still showing up and trying (read: nurses, doctors, grocery store workers, truck drivers, etc.). People are taking care of their neighbors and strangers. They are helping by showing up, but they’re also helping by sacrificing.

Staying home is hard. Even for me. And I love being home. I love not wearing real pants. I love being alone and not seeing people. I spent this weekend at home, alone, like I have spent many before and will, no doubt, spend many in the future. But it is hard. I like shopping (mostly window shopping, but also I’m here for retail therapy) and I miss it. I miss visiting my friends. I miss babysitting. I desperately miss happy hour (I’m thankful for virtual happy hour, but it is not the same) with pitchers of margaritas and queso and my weight in chips.

I know a lot of people miss those things and more. But we’re, as a society, trying (and it seems to be working) to love our neighbors well, and right now that means staying home. We are being challenged by the virus. If we work together, this will work and things will return to normal ish. And maybe we’ll come out with some new friends.

Adult Life

Commitment to Myself

Sometimes, it all seems too much.

When Sam (my coworker/all-around excellent person who I love) asked me what I was doing for Lent, I told her I was re-committing to writing and/or reading more. Ten minutes a day is all it takes and I know it makes me feel better. Plus it’s so much better than mindless watching Supernatural (my current binge) for the 12th time. And I did read every day, for about a week. I finally finished the last in the series of romance novels I’ve been reading from the library.

And then it all was too much again. A mystery virus took hold of the world and the news cycle and all of a sudden, binging Netflix/scrolling through Facebook became easier. But, as that virus took hold, the communities I’m in fought back.

One of my favorite podcast teams, Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, decided to host an 8-week class: Together in Quarantine. It’s an 8-week “virtual pilgrimage” of sorts through the Harry Potter series. Like the podcast (which I 10/10 recommend), the class would bring people together to read Harry Potter as sacred. Together we would explore the text and see how it can teach us to love better. I have never purchased tickets so fast (except, perhaps, when I got tickets for their live show in Austin).

Tonight was the first class and it convinced me that I need to make more space for myself and that I need time to reflect on my day, my life and the world around me. Vanessa said being vulnerable is about stretching, but not so much it hurts. I decided need to make more space for myself to be vulnerable.

Everything is so weird right now, in the world, in my life, at work. Everything is simultaneously at a complete standstill and business-as-usual. I feel like I can’t disconnect because someone will need something and they will need it immediately. As a response to the weirdness, I’ve tried (with varying levels of success) to shut out people and things that are hard. I don’t ask for the things I need; I make jokes, I laugh about dumb things (read: memes and dark humor) and I meet the needs of those around me that need to be met (read: work fires, family fires, etc.; basically, if it’s on fire, I will deal with it and not a moment before) and then I come home, eat and sleep so I can be ready to do it all again.

I don’t go above and beyond in any of the things because I can’t. I have shut the creative parts of myself down because it’s hard it takes energy to get there (the burnout is real, people). And, time and time again I learn that you can’t pour from an empty cup, but I keep trying. I know all of this about myself, which is part of why I decided to do this class. It’s virtual, which is much less anxiety-inducing than an in-person class, and it’s only eight weeks. At worst, I supported an organization I believe is doing good work; at best, I learn more about myself and the world around me.

While I was in class tonight, I decided I need to come first (for a little bit) and figure out what I need. I decided for the next seven Tuesdays, I’m committing to making space for me, for the things I love and the things I need.

We were challenged by Vanessa to set a goal this week (something that the text called us to) that we want to have accomplished by our next class. This week, I will take some time to disconnect. Real, extended time without my phone, not dealing with notifications, emails, texts, or the endless stream of media at my fingertips.

If this outbreak has taught us anything (and, frankly, it should be teaching us a ton), it has taught us that we aren’t immune to the world and we really need to figure out what matters.

Life After College

Autumn, SJ & Sam

As my time with my team comes to a close (even though Autumn already left), I decided I should write the blog that’s been on my mind for a long time.Team Awesome

SJ, Autumn & Sam:

Thank you.

Thank you for being strong, beautiful women and for helping me feel that way too. I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to work with each of you and learn from you.

Autumn– Thank you for teaching me about being creative and artsy. You showed me ways to look at things differently. You have a shining personality and you’re very graceful under pressure. I’m glad you’re enjoying your fancy new job and I’m so excited that you get to make a difference in Waco. I can’t think of anyone better for the job!

Sam– Thank you for being as sassy as me and being a great sounding board. I still think if we went to high school, we would have been great friends, but really this is better because we get to attend happy hour. I’m so excited for you to start your new job because you are going to do great things.

SJ– Thank you for everything. Thank you for taking a chance on a procrastinating college senior and thank you for teaching her how to be a better grown up and giving her the opportunity to work with an amazing team. You are an excellent teacher and mentor and you always made me feel like my opinions were valued and important. Thank you for setting a good example for all of us and stepping up when no one else wanted to. You make everyone around you a better person (and you always remind us to drink more water, so we’re healthier too). You are an awesome mom; I can’t wait to meet that precious baby and I am so excited that you get to spend some time at home with your kiddos.

Thank you guys for teaching me about the importance of gifs and emoijs. Thanks for showing me that it’s totally fine to get excited about beautiful fonts and ampersands. Thank you for taking brain breaks with me and trolling Twitter to find something fun and new to try.

I’m so lucky to have had the opportunity to work with you guys and I have a feeling this isn’t the end of Team Awesome. And in the meantime, I’m always game to visit the Taco Hut. 🍸🍸

I love you guys! Thank you for everything! ❤️❤️

Life After College

Disaster & Triumph

You know what always astounds me? That it takes a devastating tragedy for people to be nice to each other.

Today, there was nowhere I could turn that didn’t show the devastation that Texas is currently facing. The coast is in shambles. Cities are facing historic floods. Meteorologists don’t think the storm part of this story will end for a few more days, as they expect Harvey to turn around and come back. And it broke my heart to see the pictures. I saw story after story about people who lost everything, entire cities flattened, massive highways underwater.

But amidst those stories, there were stories of triumph. Stories about people who loaded up their boats this weekend and headed toward the storm to go pull complete strangers to safety. Stories about people opening their homes to friends of friends so they would have a safe, dry place to stay. Buses moving hundreds of people to convention centers that became temporary shelters. People looking for somewhere to make donations or volunteer their time. And of gas stations and convenience stores that went out of their way to support people who were traveling and people who were volunteering.

And the silly things we use to divide us, like skin color, political views, language, aren’t important anymore.

This is the kind of compassion we need because we are all human and we are all here together. And we are stronger together. Stories like this give me hope for our future. I just wish it didn’t take a disaster to make it happen.

My thoughts and prayers are with Houston and those who were impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Additionally, I thank the brave first responders and volunteers who are working around the clock to make sure as many people as possible are safe and have what they need. I know this is a trying time, but I know that by working together, we will rise above it.

Want to read some of those triumphant stories I talked about? I found you some! Check them out:

Think you want to help? Check out this article from NPR >

Read the latest on Twitter >

Read a great story? Mention it in the comments below!

Life After College

Happy birthday, Grandpa. 🎂

Happy birthday, Grandpa.

I missed you a little extra today.

I miss you every day. I think about you a lot on my commutes to and from work. Because the sun is eternally in my eyes for the first 15 minutes of my drive (and depending on how late I come home, the last 15, too). It reminds of the times I used to run to play in your garden with the sun in my eyes.

And you were there. In your hat. Weeding and spreading the compost and pruning and trimming. And sharing the fresh fruits and veggies with me and whoever else was around. I still smell tomatoes at the store because they remind me of you. I hope your garden in Heaven is as fruitful.

We miss you. You’d be really proud. Ali graduated. She looked like a grown-up, but she’s still the goofy girl you love.

And Joe John’s good. He just got cleared to play football again. Apparently, his knee is totally healed up and he’s better than ever. And he just got confirmed, which is crazy because I feel like I just blinked and he turned into a man.

Julibug is good, too. Her head still hurts, but I think it’ll go away soon now that school is over.

And I’m good. Working. Trying to make everyone proud. The usual.

Keep watching over us, okay? Because we need it, probably more than we know.

I love you.

Happy birthday.

My mom’s dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about eight or nine years ago. On August 4, 2016, he passed away in the nursing home peacefully. He leaves behind an amazing legacy of children and grandchildren, and through us, he will live on. He instilled the values of hard work and persistence in all of us and he will be greatly missed. So while we mourn his passing, we rejoice in the fact that he has found peace and know he will watch over all of us, however far we may go.



Today’s prompt: If you could be completely honest with no regrets, what would you say and to whom?


Why is it easier to be honest hiding behind a screen than in person? Because the reaction isn’t always what we expect. But there’s no good in that. I can hide behind my screen and write who I’d be honest with and what I’d say, but that isn’t fair to whomever I’d write to and it isn’t fair to me.

I do write honestly, for myself. Letters mostly. Usually with a specific person in mind. Usually without the intention of sending them. I tell people how I feel, what I think they did wrong, all the things I couldn’t think to say or wouldn’t have said in the moment come out. And that honesty is great because it gets things off my mind, but it isn’t really fair.

For that, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that you won’t get to read those letters anytime soon. But I’m not really that sorry, though, because sometimes it’s most challenging to be honest with yourself. That’s what those letters give me.

NaBloPoMo November 2016



Today’s prompt is: When was the last time you did something brave? What happened?

BRAVE   |   brāv/
adjective   |   ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage.
synonyms: courageous, valiant, valorous, intrepid, heroic, lionhearted, bold, fearless, gallant, daring, plucky, audacious; unflinching, unshrinking, unafraid, dauntless, doughty, mettlesome, stouthearted, spirited

What makes me brave? In my everyday life, when was the last time I showed courage?

It’s kinda a loaded question. I get up in the morning and I do what I need to; I go to work or the store. I cook when that needs to happen. I clean when that needs to happen. Does any of that seem brave to you?

I do all of those things, but I don’t really have a plan.

When I graduated, I wasn’t 100 percent sure what my next steps were going to be. My whole life had been about achieving this one goal and I was about to do it and what was supposed to happen next. The beauty of that is that I wasn’t stressed about it. I was stressed about lots of things surrounding graduation, but what was going to happen next wasn’t daunting for me.

Some people might say that’s thoughtless, naive, stupid even. But I call it brave, I guess. I have faith that my life will work out the way it’s supposed to. That’s not to say that I don’t work for the things I have, but there are things in life out of our control. I think having faith is brave.

Faith in life to work out. Faith in people and kindness and generosity. It’s easy to be cynical. It’s easy to write the world off. It’s brave to build relationships and learn about people.

Bravery isn’t just about heroes who beat villains. Bravery happens every day.


NaBloPoMo November 2016



In an attempt to get back to writing, I’m going to participate in National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo). I’ve got too many ideas bouncing around in my brain and started as drafts. Starting today, look for posts from me daily. If you’ve got ideas about what you’d like to see me write about, comment somewhere and I might just use your idea if I don’t like the prompt.

Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.

-J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows

Words are important. We make them up; we combine them; we pull them apart; we mush them with other languages. We use them to express concrete and abstract ideas. Words differ based on your language and your culture and your education. Words are magic.

A kind word spoken at a funeral can move total strangers to tears. Generous praise can encourage coworkers to go the extra mile so you don’t have to.  A funny word (or perhaps a few) can be used to relieve the tension after a long week. Written words can transport the reader to a new time, a different place, an exotic culture, a fresh point of view.

And then words become actions. A written letter becomes a platform for discussion. A story becomes a lesson.

We underestimate the people who use them. We underestimate the value of historians and artists and writers. All the people who use words to create value. What’s a story without a title? What’s a painting without a name?

Words are important. Take the time to choose the right ones.

NaBloPoMo November 2016