Thursday, June 30, 2016

Goodbye, June.

It has been a whirlwind of a week since my birthday last Friday. Between birthday celebrations at the beach, cramming for my neuroanatomy exam this past Monday, and finally getting back to work after five days off, it's safe to say that I've been crazy busy.

Saying goodbye to June means we are officially past the halfway point of 2016 (unreal). It also means I am just weeks away from starting my graduate program (OMG). Life is about to change in so many ways, and truthfully, it's about to get a lot more stressful. The next month and a half is going to be spent finishing up neuro, getting all my ducks in a row to start school, and picking up as many shifts as I can! Having said that, I'm going to try my best to fill my days with adventures, relaxation, and date nights with Ryan and friends.  I want to make the next few weeks as fun as possible while I still have the opportunity!

This July,  I will:

- Bake two new desserts! I used to love baking, and I feel like I never have the time or money for it anymore.
- Make a fancy dinner for me and Ryan.
- Craft up a new cocktail, or just find a new one on Pinterest!
- Have at least four friend dates.
- Have two date nights with Ryan.
- Kayak/paddle board at Weeki Wachee!
- Go to Blizzard Beach at Disney.
- Read one book per week! This will be a challenge, but I'm committing to it.

It looks like it's a great month ahead! And with that, goodbye, June. Goodbye birthday month and birthday shenanigans, and goodbye to the first month of summer. On to the next half of 2016!


Friday, June 24, 2016

Hello, 25.


Today is my birthday! Today, I am 25 years old. Halfway to 30. Five years past 20. Officially able to get a decent deal on a rental car. What a life.

I came home from a 12 hour shift last night to balloons, a donut float for my beach party on Saturday, birthday confetti, and a card. Ryan always goes all out for my birthday and I absolutely love him for it. He spends a good chunk of our relationship pretending like I annoy him to tears, but when push comes to shove, he really knows how to make me feel special.

Ah. I don't really know what to expect for 25. I have a weird feeling about everything is about to change (again). I guess in some ways, it will (hello, grad school). I think it's a good feeling, though. Going into 25, I feel secure. I feel secure with my career path, I feel secure with my relationships, and I'm slowly but surely becoming secure with myself.

So goodbye, 24, and hello to a new chapter.


Thursday, June 23, 2016

12 Things I was at 24 ::

  1. In love. I moved in with my boyfriend, and we're just past the two and a half year mark (aka my longest relationship). Moving in together was a huge step, but it was (and continues to be) the best thing for our relationship while going back to school. He's a huge reason why I made it through this school year with my head still on straight, and I'm so thankful that I'm the one he still chooses to love every day.
  2. A student (again). By far my biggest obstacle, but it turned out to be one of the very best things to happen to me. It was hard getting back into the swing of things (studying, exams, homework, etc.) but I managed! 
  3. Hardworking. I've never pushed myself harder than I did during my 24th year, especially in my fall semester when I was busting my ass to create a decent resume for grad school. From volunteering at the hospital to late night study dates and picking up extra shifts when I could, I really burned myself out. But it was worth it.
  4. Rejected. By most of the schools I applied to. Until I was...
  5. Accepted into graduate school. Sometimes I still can't believe this one. I think it was after this point that I began to feel like my true self again. No more wondering where we would move, how we would move, what we would do, how we could do it, because I got into my top choice. Nothing topped that feeling.
  6. Brunette...and then blonde. I dyed my hair dark, dark brown and loved it...until I decided I was not destined for the brunette life, so I went a little lighter. And then just two days ago, I went back to what I've always been: blonde. It felt good to change!
  7. Overwhelmed. I cried a lot this year. Changing your life for a new career will do that to you. Ah, stress!
  8. Indecisive. I seriously cannot make any decision, big or small, without weighing in on other people's opinions. I'm forever in fear of making a bad call.
  9. A BBG girl. I completed Kayla Itsine's BBG 1 two times, and now I'm on to BBG 2. It's the first time I've committed to fitness in awhile, and it feels good! (most days).
  10. A procrastinator. This behavior didn't start at 24, and it probably won't end there either. Although I should probably figure out some way to fix that before starting grad school in August...
  11. Broke. Not going to tip toe around that one: this year was my first as a real broke college student. I could afford everything I needed, but my frivolous purchases at Target rapidly dwindled and I can't even remember the last time I went shopping for clothes. #Adulting?
  12. Happy. Not always, and not even often. 24 left me stressed, sad, confused, and hopeless a good chunk of the time (applying to grad school will do that to you!). But it also brought me new friends, a new apartment with my boyfriend, and a new perspective. I learned a lot about myself this year, and thankfully, I had a really fantastic group of people to do life with. 24 was definitely a tough year, but I can truly say that I'm happy with where I ended up and where I'm going.

Ringing in the big "25" tomorrow! I'll see ya on the other side.


Monday, June 20, 2016

Asheville 2016 | Sierra Nevada Brewery.

Anytime Ryan and I travel, one of the first things we he looks into is local breweries to check out. While we'd heard great things about Asheville's Wicked Weed and Asheville Brewing Company, an Asheville local told us we should visit Sierra Nevada's east coast brewery, as it was "out of this world impressive." Thus, we decided to go corporate and see what all the fuss was about.

Um, yeah, so this place was pretty much the Hogwarts of breweries. So big! So beautiful! So unlike any brewery we have in Tampa!

I'll be the first to say that I'm not a beer drinker. Having said that, I'll always try a flight of beers (the smaller the better!) to get a feel for the brewery and just to say I tried. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed every single beer. Otra Vez was my absolute favorite with its combination of prickly pear cactus and grapefruit. We finished off our beers and then threw back some duck fat fries. It's safe to say that no calories were burned in the consumption of this meal. But so good. SO GOOD.

After we ate our weight in french fries, we made our way through the bar to the outside patio. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon, and the place was jam packed with families, couples, and dogs. A live country trio played string instruments and we sipped our beers along the grass before trekking through their homegrown vegetable and herb garden.

 As expected for an attraction of this magnitude, the grounds also had a little gift shop with Sierra Nevada brand everything. From beers (duh) to sweatshirts and t-shirts to beer specific pint glasses, it was tempting to fork over some cash for souvenirs. Then I remembered that I have no real emotional attachment to any kind of beer, so I decided against it. Maybe if it was the Sierra Nevada Winery?

All in all,  if you're heading up to Asheville any time soon, I would definitely recommend a trip to the SNB. We spent about three hours there, and we felt like we were able to do and see everything we wanted. The grounds were absolutely gorgeous, I got to eat delicious food, and I even found a beer I could tolerate drinking enjoy. Can't go wrong there!

 Have you been to the Sierra Nevada Brewery in Asheville? What did you think? 


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Getting into Graduate School for Speech-Language Pathology.

Note: if you have zero interest in speech-language pathology/getting into graduate school for said field, this might not be the most interesting post for you!

When I made the decision to apply for graduate school (in a field that was 100% different from my initial degree), I knew that quitting my job and going back to serving wasn’t going to be the only difficult part of the journey.

If you’re familiar with speech-language pathology as a field, you know that getting into graduate school is notoriously difficult. Hundreds of students apply for just 20-60 spots, and a good majority of them have phenomenal GPAs. 

Now that I've officially (and miraculously) been accepted to school, I thought I'd put together a list of tips that I believe helped me secure my spot in a great program:

Don’t blow off the GRE. No matter what your friends tell you, spend some time studying for the GRE. For one, it’s a really expensive test to just throw your hands up and see how things go. Learn the strategies, memorize the vocabulary, and take practice tests. I will be the first one to tell you that it’s a stupid test that in no way actually determines how you will perform in grad school. Having said that, it’s a stupid test that will either make or break your application. TIP: Spend a couple hours looking at sample analytical writing essays and prompts. My verbal and quantitative scores were above what I needed when I took the test my first time…and then my analytical writing score came back 12 days later 0.5 points below what I needed. It matters.

Personally, I loved using Magoosh for my studies. I could take full practice exams, and I had access to hundreds of verbal and quant questions. Every single practice question gave a 1-3 minute explanation for the answer, so it was like having my own personal tutor. Definitely worth the money, and it’s considerably cheaper than many other programs.

Immerse yourself in the field. I spent the summer before applying to schools emailing local private practices and hospitals about shadowing their SLPs. I managed to secure a volunteer position at a major hospital here in Tampa for my spring semester (just finishing up my 80 hours this month!), and I formed a great relationship with an SLP practicing at a local school (who ended up writing me a letter of recommendation!). Plus, I spent a couple half days shadowing my friend at the private practice she works at. Not only was I buffing up my grad school application, but I learned so much over the year while getting to work in different settings. 

Get personal with your letter of intent. Even though I’m pretty comfortable with writing, drafting my letter of intent was intimidating. It’s your only opportunity to tell the admission committees exactly why and how you’re different from other applicants…especially if you’re coming from another major or acknowledging a low GPA. I used my background in professional sales and recent observation hours to explain why I decided to pursue speech pathology, and why I felt I would be a perfect fit for the program. Get creative! I also made sure to send drafts to friends and family for review, and quadruple checked for spelling and grammatical errors. In a nutshell – sell yourself, but tastefully!
Reach out early for letters of recommendation. And don’t feel weird about asking for them! Writing letters of recommendation is literally in a professor’s job description. Having said that, reaching out early is key. Again, as a post-bacc, I was in a weird position. Thus, I had to reach out to professors after hardly getting to know them at all. If at all possible, don’t do this. Get involved in research or attend office hours. BUT, do know that it’s completely possible to get a good letter from a professor you don’t have a close relationship with, so long as you’re in good academic standing in the class.

Let them know you’re thinking about them, in a non-suffocating kind of way. As soon as I heard USF was sending out waitlist notifications (in addition to acceptances), I called the graduate school advisor to check in on the status of my application. While talking on the phone can seem scary, it really is so much more personal than an email. Later that week, I was waitlisted. I made sure to reply to the email expressing my continued interest in the school, and then sent an updated resume the following week. I maxed myself out at three separate points of contact, and from there, I [im]patiently waited for my future to unfold…into an acceptance! Of course, there’s no guarantee that reaching out here and there will make a definite difference, but it felt good to know that there was nothing more I could have done to make myself stand out.

Monday, June 13, 2016

In Wake of the Orlando Shooting.

What a world we live in.

A lot of people ask questions like, “what has this world come to?” As sad as it is to say, hate crimes are not something new. Tragedy and terrorism are not unfamiliar to us as a country, or as a planet. From the mass shooting in Orlando, to the Holocaust, to slavery, there is one thing they all have in common: hatred. It’s something we as race think we are overcoming, but it is clear that we have a long, treacherous road ahead.

I’ve always liked to think that there is a little bit of good in everyone, but when tragedy of this magnitude strikes, it’s truly difficult for me to stand by that belief. How can some humans have such ugly hearts? How is it that someone can so easily commit a deadly massacre for the mere sake of not agreeing with another person’s sexual orientation? And then declare it's for the love of god? I don't think so. I guess that’s something that we will never understand.

The Orlando shootings hit far too close to home for me. Not only because of its proximity to Tampa, but because of the number of friends and coworkers I have in the LGBTQ community. It literally breaks my heart to think about what they’re all going through right now. It would be unfair to assume that I, as a straight white female, have any inkling of a clue. 

To Orlando & my friends and members of the LGBTQ community: Just know that our hearts are with you, and they are absolutely breaking for you in the wake of this horrific event. 


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Tropical Storm Colin.

While Florida is known for it's sunshine, what a lot of non-Floridians don't know is that when it rains here, it pours. Especially around here in Tampa Bay, it feels like just over an hour of straight rain leads to flash flooding. With Tropical Storm Colin making his way through the state, the last two days have been crazy around these parts, from manatees floating into backyards from canals to major roads and bridges shutting down entirely.

Personally, this is my happy weather. I love waking up to gray skies and thunder rumblings, especially when I have plenty of time to lounge. Most days I miss having a full time, Monday through Friday, steady income job (just two more years until that can be me again! ha), but on days like today, I love having a flexible schedule.

For me, rainy days mean a whole lot of: 

  • Cleaning the apartment from top to bottom.
  • Pulling out my acrylic and watercolor paints and getting creative.
  • Brewing some tea and curling up on the couch with the pups and a movie I've never seen before.
  • Updating my planner with new goals for the incoming week/month.
  • Browsing some new blogs and brainstorming new content for my little corner of the internet.

Do you relish in rainy days? Any Floridians out there braving the storm? Stay dry!


Thursday, June 2, 2016

Hello, June 2016.

Six months into the year, and two months out from graduate school. 344 days into my 24th year, and 22 days away from the start of my 25th. Time flies when you're having fun, huh? This is the month I say goodbye to 24, and hello to 25. It's the month of my first (and second) neuroanatomy exam. It's also the month that I finally update my blog template (someone hold me to this! and any recommendations?!). This month,

Less is More:

Less gossip, more learning.
Less sugar, more water.
Less scrolling, more reading.
Less guessing, more research.
Less sleeping, more studying.
Less clothing, more sweating.
Less spending, more saving.
Less wishing, more hard work.
Less lounging, more running.
Less 24, more 25.

What do you want to do less of this month? What do you plan to work on?

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