You Get There By Realizing You Are Already There

Where am I getting, now? What’s with the weird inspirational quote for a title? All I’m really here for is to read your goals, weird blogging lady.

2017. MMXVII. Twothousandseventeen. 2k17. There were indeed plenty of ways to refer to the year of the rooster. It’s been a long 365 days, and it’s been a long year of goals. The year honestly seemed to fly by. Moving back to America, visiting the Netherlands twice, finishing my first semester of college, advancing my CAP career, developing my hobby of photography, living on my own, and figuring out who I am are all things of 2017 that made this year unique.

In January, I set ten goals for myself to accomplish in the 365 days of 2017. I suppose it’s time to reflect and elaborate on 2017.

My Goals for 2017 Were…

  1. Love myself and be happy. Do things because they’ll make me happy. I think I came a long way on this goal. I’m still not the most in shape, or the skinniest girl, or whatnot. But you know what? I don’t really care. I’m going to work harder in order to do things for myself, to prepare for encampment and possibly even my Spaatz exam one day. But as a whole, I don’t feel guilty for eating anymore. I don’t feel like I have to exercise until I’m dead or else I’m a terrible person. I bought clothes that make me feel pretty and are comfortable. I accepted clothes that didn’t fit anymore. I’m doing good. I’m happy.
  2. Go to college and study where and what I want. Kent State University has been an amazing fit for me so far. The Digital Sciences major is fantastic, allowing me to study towards a Bachelor of Science and do what I love. I’ve learned so much and met some really cool people. 
  3. Achieve at least C/Lt Col in the Civil Air Patrol. Well, this one is impossible this year. I did not have time or money to attend Cadet Officer School or a Region Cadet Leadership School. However, I am not in the least discouraged. I may not be on a “perfect” promotion schedule anymore, but I’m exactly where I need to be. Having been the Cadet Commander of the Maryland Cyber Defense Training Academy in its inaugural year, being a crucial part of planning the Great Lakes Region Conference, overcoming difficulties at the squadron level, and now accepting the position of Deputy Commander for Operations at the 2018 Ohio Wing Encampment have given me the experience, training, and valuable lessons that I am so incredibly grateful for. I will be a Cadet Major until I attend an RCLS, which I will likely be doing in July. Spaatz is attainable in 2018. Spaatz will happen in 2018.
  4. Learn to stay calm and manage emotions, as well as being able to express these to others. (This one may not make sense to you as the reader, but it does to me. I’ve already started working on it!) I still lose my cool sometimes. I still argue unnecessarily sometimes. But, I’m doing okay. I’m doing well, actually. I greatly underestimated how much stress college would put on me, however, I kicked ass. I got through it. I did it.
  5. Learn something new. Whether this is learning a new language, something about computers, anything. I learned a lot this year. I learned about myself, mostly. However, I also learned how to become comfortable with JavaScript. I learned how to use various Adobe softwares. In May, I learned a bit of Russian and a significant amount about cryptography. I learned more about my leadership style. I learned how to read regulations, and I learned to be able to use them efficiently. I became comfortable writing memorandums and official correspondence. I learned some job-specific things, such as using Team Dynamix. I’ve learned a lot and it’s been a great year.
  6. Make money. Save money. (Already working on the saving money! #AdventureFund) I got a job, so there’s that. I love my job, and I love making my own money. I transfer $20 a month to my savings account, and it’s a smart thing to do, I think. So while it is not a whole lot, it’s my money and it feels great. I took some money out of the Adventure Fund to pay for some miscellaneous small stuff, but that’s okay.
  7. Stay hydrated. All year. I think there’s a water bottle around here somewhere… But really. I’ve done terrible and great with this one- depending on the month. 
  8. Read my whole James Patterson series. I got stuck halfway through book 13 in August, and I never picked them back up. I brought book 13 with me to the Netherlands… maybe I can make some more progress before the new year. It won’t be the whole series, but it’ll be okay. I read more than usual. During the last two months of school I also really got into Ernest Hemingway, voluntarily reading “Farewell to Arms” and “Hemingway on War”. For class I read “The Sun Also Rises”, and reread “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It was a decent reading year. 
  9. Travel. Throughout the year, I went to the Netherlands twice. I went to Germany. I went to CDTA in Maryland, and visited Dayton a significant amount of times. I went to Erie, PA twice to visit the Lake Shore Railway Museum. I flew through Reykjavik, Iceland flying to the Netherlands (even though we spent all of 15 minutes in the airport because the flight was boarding as we landed). Traveling has been fantastic, and I can’t wait to plan something big next year… I still can’t wait to go see New York City again. 
  10. Write more. (Whether this is blogging, letters, cards, journaling, it’s going to happen!) I mean. Sure. I did blog more; I blogged at least twice every month. I wrote more physically, and I took a lot of notes in my classes. I need to write a few postcards still, but I’ll get caught up soon. 

It’s been such a great year. Family and friends were a big part of it – as was college. Joining Kent’s Chi Alpha (the Campus Ministry/Christian Fellowship), breaking out of my shell and hanging out with people (I went to a party too??), making new friends, attending a Green Day concert, volunteering with FIRST robotics, progressing as a photographer, and Civil Air Patrol activities have been huge highlights.

IMG_0137Getting to drive my car again when I came back to the USA, getting to take trips to Conneaut to see the beach and enjoy the water, watching the United States Air Force Thunderbirds fly, meeting the crew and pilots of the Thunderbirds, planning a conference for over five months (and learning some interesting leadership lessons along the way), organizing Great Lakes Region’s first ever Region Color Guard at the Region Conference, and serving as Cadet Commander at the first ever Maryland Campus of the Cyber Defense Training Academy.

Being voted as Chairman of the Ohio Wing Cadet Advisory Council, taking part in the Wing Commander’s promotion and Change of Command ceremonies, becoming my squadron’s first ever cadet rated to be a Mission Scanner and aircrew member, wearing a skirt, running a 5k, painting a rock, going black Friday shopping for the first time, getting the cutest little bunny rabbit, and even getting groceries on my own.

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2017 has been a year of surprises, of love, and of losses. A lot was accomplished. I made a bunch of friends. People passed away too soon. Megan Grimsic, you were one of the funniest people I knew. You were so absolutely talented, and one of the smartest people around. I met you at TCTC – we had Chemistry together. That class quickly became my favorite that year. I know we may not have been very close after you graduated, but thank you. Thank you for always making me smile and always being there for me, and everyone, no matter what. You were one of the coolest lab partners, ever. We’d try to match our lab goggles, and make jokes about the pennies we’d “boil”. You always pushed me to follow my dreams, and your photography always inspired me. I can’t believe you left the world this soon, you are loved by so many. Your funeral was beautiful, and I’m so glad I attended. Finally meeting your father was wonderful – you were right. He is pretty cool. I met your boyfriend, too. When I told him about you, he hugged me and quietly cried. You’ll always be loved by everyone, I promise you. We won’t forget you.

Sixty-seven blog posts to date, a custom domain name, and eleven categories –  this blog has come a long way since April 2016. I’ve done a countdown to my birthday, I’ve done these goals, and so often I will blog about random things. So what will my theme for 2018 be? After much consideration and debating, I have decided I will do a writing prompt every month.

The Writing Prompts will be as follows:

  • January: Think back to a moment where you’ve come to the end of the road with something important in your life—a relationship with a lover; moving out of your childhood home; graduation from school; etc. Write a scene wrapped around that moment, describing how you felt (good and bad) and how you closed the door on that chapter in your life.
  • February: You’ve been going to the same bar every night for the past five years. In fact, you’re such a regular that when you enter the, the other patrons yell your name and the bartender already has your drink waiting for you. But then one Friday you arrive and no one seems to recognize you, not even the bartender. What’s going on?
  • March: Envision a dragon. Do you battle him? Or is the dragon friendly?
  • April: Write a short story that takes place in a world where there are no insects left. Aside from no longer needing to clean bugs off of car windshields, what are the repercussions given the integral role that insects play in the ecosystem? Does your story include a movement to bring insects back?
  • May: Write about not being able to see ahead of you.
  • June: If you had to escort a visitor from outer space for a 30-minute tour of your community, where would you begin and end?
  • July: What makes you proud to be an American?
  • August: Imagine yourself as a teacher.  What type of student would you like to teach and why?
  • September: Imagine that you are an animal in the zoo.  What type of animal are you?  How do you feel about being caged?  How do you feel about people that visit and watch you?
  • October: You find a genie that gives you infinite wishes with only one catch: before it grant any wish, firstly you’ll need to fulfill one of its wishes.
  • November: You lost the ability to hear at a young age. One day, you’re with your friend and you suddenly hear a noise.
  • December: Write a short story inspired by one of your favorite sentences from the year, perhaps read or heard in an essay, speech, social media post, poem, song, or work of fiction. You might decide to use it as the first or last line of the story, or allow your plotline or characterization to be more conceptually informed by your inferences of the sentence’s implications or mood.

I’m super excited about these writing prompts, and what they’ll add to my blog. I can’t wait to work on my fictional writing again, and I know they’ll help me be more creative. I have created a category called “Writing Prompts, 2018” for all these prompts, and in case anyone wants one place to view all of them. I have also created a category for my 2017 Goals, called “The Year of the Goals”.

I hope everyone has a fantastic rest of 2017 and a great start to 2018!!! I can’t wait to blog again for all of my readers super soon.

Thanks for a fantastic year of She Became a Lion!

Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.

~E. ♥

“Have you blogged yet this month?”

A question I’ve been asked multiple times. “Why haven’t you blogged?” or “IT’S ALMOST AUGUST”. Well, here we go, July’s post- possibly with minimal effort.

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The last post I made was in June, when I did a May recap… and I promised I’d blog all about Lauren’s trip to the Netherlands. I jokingly said it’d be a week after June 13th, but even that didn’t happen. It’s now a month later… and here are some highlights!

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May 23rd Lauren and I got off the plane (since the last update I gave was us getting on the plane…)

Honestly, I’m going to go into generalizations for now. We slept a lot, and some days we were just lazy. So I’ll talk about the big things.

We went to the market on Saturdays and introduced Lauren to loempias and baopao. I still eat it every Saturday, and I’m about 99% certain she misses the food more than anything. She also tried the Dutch style fries, frikandel, kroket, bitterballen, eirbal, and she really liked the kaassoufle. We took her to the Pancake Ship in Groningen too, and that was an awesome time.

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Lauren modeled for me so I could work on my photography, she went to band practices with me, and also attended my band concert on the island of Schiermonnikoog with my family and I. We walked in the North Sea- until it started raining on us. Even then it was still amazing.

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We hid ducks, went for bike rides, introduced her to my great-grandmother who is 92 years old, and eventually got back onto a plane on June 13th.

 

During all this time, my car once again decided it didn’t want to work; the right rear spring completely breaking in half. Lauren took me down to Columbus to get my uniforms and clothing in preparation for the Cyber Defense Training Academy.

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I saw my bamboo, and got a good night’s sleep in Columbus. In the morning, my boyfriend picked me up and we went to CoSi.

WAIT WAIT WAIT What? Did I just say boyfriend? Yessir, I did. That’s a thing that happened in May, too. (Whoa, he wasn’t even mentioned in the last post? Nope…) His name’s Andrew and he’s pretty cool. He’s a sweetheart.

So, yeah. CoSi was pretty awesome. The planetarium was absolutely my favorite part. *cough* Pluto is a planet *cough*. We saw Kat that day too, because she stopped by to bring me my ABU cover. I missed her so much, oh my goodness.

On June 16-18th, the Thunder over the Valley air show happened. It was my second time helping at the YARS Air Show as a Civil Air Patrol cadet, and it was fantastic.

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I acted as cadet commander: coordinating teams, ensuring everyone is safe and well taken care of, as well as taking photos.

The left photo was taken by me of the Calypso Pass done by the USAF Thunderbirds #5 and #6; Solo and Opposing Solo. On Friday, I had the incredible opportunity to meet the Thunderbirds.

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On the right, USAF Thunderbirds Commander Lt Col Jason Heard (Thunderbird #1) signs a fellow cadet’s pilot logbook.

Thunder Over the Valley was an incredible experience this year, from meeting the Thunderbirds, working directly with USAF Security Forces, and running through a downpour to make sure all cadets were inside, to trying to balance it with Relay for Life of Poland the night before. Yes, I attended Relay for Life and got a solid four hours of sleep. I also absolutely ate three Arby’s roast beef sandwiches. The cravings were real.

I did a photoshoot for a friend, I ate Dunkin, I slept, I went to CAP and CyberPatriot, and that was my week before CDTA. Of course, I have to give Preston Volkswagen a quick shout-out for letting me get Papa John’s Pizza delivered to the dealership as I sat there waiting to hear back about my money pit *ahem* car.

Then… The 2017 Cyber Defense Training Academy, Maryland Campus.

On June 23rd, I finally was able to put a face to the names- and the voices I’d spent countless hours talking to via conference calls. On June 23rd, the best week of my life was about to begin.

In all honesty, I had no idea what to expect. New people. New facility. New location of the CDTA. Everyone was a little unsure- but we all had a common goal: to train an upcoming generation of cyber warriors. We would let nothing get in the way of this goal. We had some mishaps. We had some miscommunication. At the end of the day however, we all came together and laughed. Senior and cadet staff alike.

From June 23rd to July 1st, I had the incredible experience of serving as the Cadet Commander for the Maryland Campus of the Cyber Defense Training Academy, Civil Air Patrol’s #2 most applied to National Cadet Special Activity. At the end of the week, we graduated 51 new Cyberspace Familiarization Course students, and I could not be more proud of them.

I, of course, didn’t do it alone. I had an amazing group of staff; cadet and senior, that supported me every step of the way.

Waking up every morning and seeing the NSA, spending hours among nerds and learning new things, gaining leadership experience, my soap, the Scepter for the Septic, sharks and minnows, ER Flight, spreadsheets, radios, pillows, mopping, beautiful sunsets, Colonel panic, geofilters, cowsay, eating chocolate with the girls on a washing machine, and Cleveland-sized groundhogs were all just a few moments and memories that made the week an amazing one. Here are a few photos!

 

So yeah, CDTA was amazing. Thank you to everyone who made CDTA-MD 2017 an amazing, memorable experience.

After CDTA, I slept. I needed sleep, man. Like. 16 straight hours plus the drive home.

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On July 3rd, I did a photoshoot for a six month birthday. It was a fantastic experience, and I learned so much. Kamry is an absolutely beautiful baby girl, and her family was great to work with.

I designed the basket she’s laying in to the left by myself, and I was so proud of it. The flowers and fabric matched her outfit gorgeously.

I spent the Fourth of July in Conneaut, first with WWII Higgins Boats (I love D-Day Conneaut perhaps a little too much) and then at the beach, swimming and tanning (okay, so I actually took a nap and got a little darker). It was a perfect day. I took a panorama of the beach, and I’ll do the same during D-Day Conneaut this year. I am the Public Affairs Officer in Charge, and I’m so incredibly excited. Kat is Cadet Commander and I can’t wait to see where the activity goes this year. Also, The Fourth of July is my mom’s birthday, so hey hey happy birthday to her!

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July 5th I got on a plane and came back to the Netherlands, where I am now. I’ve done lots of rabbit cuddling, and I even went to Germany with my grandparents on a trip to take photos of FC Groningen’s training camp. I even worked out (and am working out) consistently for the first time in my life. High school track doesn’t count.

It’s been a good month. I’m an SDA and a month away from becoming a Cadet Major in the Civil Air Patrol. I’m a month away from starting college and my major. I’m so excited for all these changes coming up in my life. Leaving my family will suck like heck, but I’m pumped to be the first on my family to go to college, to be the first with a degree.

So hey. Let’s review those goals I set last month. I definitely explored more, and I even had to speak German! I tried new things (like speaking German). Not giving a shit what people think is a work-in-progress, but it’s going better. Photography… yeah, I met that goal. Let’s keep it going! Lastly, be the best person I can be for others. I think I met this goal. I wrote that when I was super tired and in all honesty I’m not sure what I exactly meant with it. How I’m interpreting it now, I met that goal.

New goals? Hmmm.

  1. Blog in a timely manner
  2. Keep working out
  3. Sleep

There we go. Nice and simple. Maybe. Let’s see if I actually blog on August 1st this time. It’d be my first “on-time” post in a month. #Goals.

The rest of July is going to go by so fast, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. But I’m going to have a kick-ass rest of the month, and I hope you do to!

Take every chance, drop every fear.

~E.♥

Whoa, we’re halfway there.

Yes, I really hope you sang that title out loud. But we all know the real reason I’m blogging. It’s a new month, and I said I’d set goals every month. So, we’re 6/12 of the way through the year- why stop now? Let’s do this.

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First, I’ll give a summary of what I’ve been up to this past month. I had said I had some big travel plans, and never elaborated on that. Well- let’s do that now.

May 13th I traveled to the United States. I flew in to Pittsburgh, and I slept a solid 16 hours after landing. The plane didn’t fall out of the sky or anything, so there’s that. 20170513_121347.jpg

May 14th I didn’t do a whole lot. I slept, and I think I ate Dunkin. I really don’t remember much, actually. OH! And I hung out with Ky almost all day. It was great. We went to the lake and chased seagulls.

May 15th  I had Civil Air Patrol in the evening, and KJ and I participated in an Emergency Services class as the people needing rescue. It’s a recurring theme for me, since I’m not actually active in ES. Afterwards I went to Wendy’s with some CAP friends and got my bamboo from Alex (and I didn’t crash my car this time- ha).

May 16th I had my chiropractor appointment, and it was heavenly. I got my usual Panera after as well, so yeah- it was a great morning.

20170516_120952.jpgI acted as tech support for the family friend I was staying with, took him to Best Buy, got a free replacement computer, and watched Best Buy get robbed. It was an interesting time. Some dude just walked out with a laptop, and got into a getaway car. Lit. (Did I just say “lit”? I did. Gross?). I Screenshot_2017-05-16-19-29-06also went on a date that night- we went fishing and it was super cool. I caught a tiny little baby fish. AND I TOUCHED THE FISH. GUYS, I TOUCHED THE FISH. LOOK AT THE CUTE FISH. Okay, I’m good now. Maybe. FISH.

May 17th I met a friend for coffee, then drove to Columbus. I had to stop at Lodi and pour water over my face because it was so hot, but I made it in one piece. Yay! At night, I attended the Big Table with L and had amazing discussions with members of the community in and around Columbus. Shout-out to Donato’s for hosting the event.

May 18th I spent the morning with L, and did laundry. In the evening, I headed to the Dublin Embassy Suites to assist setting up for the 2017 Great Lakes Region/Ohio Wing Conference, for Civil Air Patrol. I can proudly say I stapled all 350-something banquet pamphlets. I never want to staple anything again in my life. The hotel though, was beautiful. What the cadet exec staff (myself and two other C/Captains) dubbed “the nest” had the best view of all. IMG_0075It was a gazebo-type-thing and it overlooked the lobby and atrium of the hotel. After setting up and endless stapling, I went to eat with two Lieutenants from the planning staff. We went to a chicken place called Raising Cane’s, and honestly, it was great.

May 19th I met L’s granddaughter, and she’s pretty great. She’s only four years younger than me, and so much like me. I showed her Tonight by Seether because she was going through a tough time. I spent the morning with her and L. In the evening, I went to Chick-fil-a with my fellow Cadet Execs and prepared for the conference. Registration opened at 1800 and we welcomed CAP members from all across the Region.

May 20th in the morning, the time had come. Eight months of planning and stress. Last minute phone calls and preparations. C/Capt K.S. was Brigadier General Myrick (the CAP National Vice Commander)’s escort, and it was amazing. The Learning Labs went great. All aspects of the conference within our jurisdiction ran smoothly and honestly, all the stress and planing paid off. In the evening, was the banquet. IMG_0137It was time for my Great Lakes Region Honor Guard to come to life. It was such an honor to coordinate the POW/MIA Ceremony, with one cadet from each Wing in the Region on the Honor Guard. Myself and Col Rosenberg, Region Vice Commander for Support read the script. We remember. Lastly, I was named Ohio Wing Cadet of the Year. It was such an amazing honor.

May 21st was the final day of the conference, with only our Cadet Advisory Council meeting scheduled for OHWG Cadets. Yours truly overslept and was about fifteen minutes late; but hey- they waited for me. Perks of being the Vice Chair? Heh. Overall, it was an incredibly productive and amazing conference. After the CAC meeting, we cleaned up the hotel, and I went to eat at Max & Erma’s with the same LT’s from the planning committee as on the 18th. It was amazing. Man, that burger was great. I then slept… until I had a planning call for the Cyber Defense Training Academy, that is. No, planning never ends. It’s hard to believe it’s less than a month until CDTA Maryland. I’m so stoked to be the Cadet Commander.

May 22nd I drove to Kent from Columbus and met with my advisor at KSU. I was able to schedule my classes for the fall and I AM SO FREAKING EXCITED. Ya girl is a Digital Sciences major, yo. Kent State is a beautiful campus and I couldn’t be more pumped to be a student there. Now to work out the little logistical details… yanno, like where I’m going to live. Hashtag no big deal. From Kent, I drove to my squadron’s weekly CAP meeting. I was recognized as OHWG Cadet of the Year, and I took a bunch of pictures. It was a cool meeting. It was a great day and night.IMG_0293

May 23rd I stopped at my brother’s old school and gave his class photos we took with him and his class before he left, and everyone was so excited to see me. Then, Lauren and I got on a plane. Yep, that’s right. Lauren and I are in the Netherlands right now. That’ll be a separate post, though. So far, it’s pretty great. We’re here until June 13th, so look for a post around then! //or knowing myself, a week later…

So, that was trip number one to the US of A. I’ll be going back in June until 5 July, mainly for the Cyber Defense Training Academy. Oh, and yeah, my car got fixed. 20170517_180255The body work on it is getting done as we speak… I’ll try not to hit black ice again. That wasn’t fun. Nope.

So, after reading this, you can make a few assumptions about my May goals. For instance, goal number 1 (starting the process of getting my Dutch driver’s licence) did NOT happen. But, I’m calm, happy, organized, and exploring.

So yeah, May was awesome. But… June Goals? Let’s think of something. Hmmm…..

  1. EXPLORE MORE
  2. Try new things
  3. Don’t live how others think you should. Explained: don’t give a shit what people think. (I guess this kind of ties into 2017 Goal 1)
  4. Photography!
  5. Be the best person I can be for others.

June is about to be great. Super great. I don’t know how much time I’ll have to blog, but I’ll be sure to come back and tell you all about it.

Follow your heart and make yourself happy.

-E.

My blog is one year old!

A year ago today I posted an 190 word blog post, titled “Why am I a lion?”. My inspiration came from taking a baby Simba lion stuffed animal that my boyfriend at the time got me to Chicago, Illinois. That’s when I realized how freaking amazing lions are. They’re fierce and strong. Exactly like how I wish to live my life. “She Became a Lion”. A quote from that very first blog post- “I like to think of myself like a lion. Strong. Fierce. An over-comer. Yet, gentle. Because, everyone sees some shit in life. But, it gets better. As stereotypical as that may sound. Really… Everyone can find their lion. My inspiration just happened to… actually be a lion.

I ended that post like I’ve ended almost every post on my blog; with a quote or small, uplifting statement. That statement was “smile, you’re amazing“. fiftyLittle did I know that statement would lead to so many more.
Over the course of a year, I posted 50 times. I got this cool little notification from WordPress right after posting my April Goals update. Fifty posts, anywhere from poetry and posts about myself, to Simba traveling and whatever else random I come up with, all these posts make up my blog.

From my fourteen followers, my friends that regularly read my blog whenever I post on Snapchat that I’m “back at it again”, to my fantastic editor and countless drafts that have lived on my account or ages, that’s what SHEBECAMEALIONTWOmy blog is. It’s nothing big, nothing popular. Sure, it’s the link in my bio on all of my social media accounts, but that doesn’t mean anything. I’m super thankful to those of you that read my posts, those of you that express your excitement about reading my posts to me. All of you are so fantastic.

So, that’s where my blog has come in a year. But… what about me? Surely I changed a little. And change, I did.

If you would’ve asked me on April 9th, 2016 where I saw myself in a year, I could never have imagined where I am right now ever being an answer to that. My answer would’ve been somewhere along the lines of “finishing my second semester as a Music Education major in college and with my amazing boyfriend”. Never in my life did I think I’d be in the Netherlands, taking a gap year from school, and single. Not on April 9th, 2016 anyway.

Now, just because I said I never thought I’d be here, doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. I may not have my boyfriend anymore, and yeah- it took me incredibly long to figure out how to be okay again- but I did, and I’m better than before. I am so thankful for the memories I was able to share with him, for the part of my life that he was… But it was without him that I learned to truly love myself. I have the best friends anyone could ask for. They go out of their comfort zones to make sure I’m okay… rescuing me from the side of the road when I slid on ice, telling me I’m amazing and encouraging me, and just being the helpful amazing people you are. I couldn’t thank Lauren, Kat, and Alex enough for always being my best friends. I may not be in college, or even in America for that matter, but that doesn’t stop me from realizing that being in the Netherlands can be an amazing experience. I’ve done so much that other people my age would never have been able to, I’ve seen family I haven’t seen since I was a little older than a toddler, I’ve done a bunch of really fun things, and I’ve definitely brushed up on my ability to speak the language.

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Oh, and of course Simba is here as well. He’s the little lion that started all of this, why wouldn’t he be?

In summary, I suppose I do kind of miss the idea of where I thought my life was going. But everything happens for a reason, and sometimes life’s just about riding it out and finding exactly what that reason is. There’s no shame in changing majors, re-thinking your friend group, cutting toxic people out of your life, or even completely changing who you are. Be you, be confident, break out of your shell.

A year ago today, I wouldn’t have felt comfortable going out in public and showing enthusiasm for something no one around me had enthusiasm for. Yesterday, at the Day of Music, I realized I no longer cared. I was happy to be doing improv and singing and being excited about music again, and I didn’t care that everyone around me thought the leaders of the workshop were completely insane for being so energetic. It was an amazing experience, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

I couldn’t be more thankful for the people around me who have helped me realize this, who have pushed me to be the best me I can be. Lastly, I’m thankful for this blog- for being my creative outlet- for being somewhere I can go to write. I’m thankful that it’s helped people and that it makes people happy to read my thoughts. Here’s a little something from that very first blog post again:

These are my journeys, my thoughts, Simba’s travels, my poetry- well, I really just hope for this to be an inspiration to others. For others to find their lion. Or owl, gazelle, octopus, eagle, stork, anything. For others to keep fighting, to find life’s beauty, to be strong.

Here’s to many more years of happiness, figuring out who I am, and maybe blogging about it along the way!
And don’t forget to smile, because you’re amazing.

~E. ♥

2017 Goals, Part Uno.

Well, here we are. We are approaching the end of the first week of 2017.

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2017. MMXVII. Twothousandseventeen. 2k17. There’s plenty of ways to refer to the year of the rooster. However, we can all agree on one thing. It’s new, and it’s here for 365 days.

Some people make “New Year’s Resolutions”. Some people believe in the philosophy of “New Year, New Me”. Personally, I’m not a fan of any of those things. To those of you who do, good luck, you can do it, you’re great.

For me: I’m going to try something new. Goal setting!

Okay, okay, so maybe it’s kind of like a new year’s resolution. But, there’s a catch. Goals can be made at any time. Goals can be long term and short term.

I’ll be posting my monthly goals and updates from the past month in the first week of every month.In the last week of 2017, I’ll be summarizing. But- we’ll get there. One day, one week, one month at a time.

I’ll start my goals with my 2017 goals. Here we go.

My Goals for 2017

  1. Love myself and be happy. Do things because they’ll make me happy.
  2. Go to college and study where and what I want.
  3. Achieve at least C/Lt Col in the Civil Air Patrol
  4. Learn to stay calm and manage emotions, as well as being able to express these to others. (This one may not make sense to you as the reader, but it does to me. I’ve already started working on it!)
  5. Learn something new. Whether this is learning a new language, something about computers, anything.
  6. Make money. Save money. (Already working on the saving money! #AdventureFund)
  7. Stay hydrated. All year.
  8. Read my whole James Patterson series.
  9. Travel.
  10. Write more. (Whether this is blogging, letters, cards, journaling, it’s going to happen!)

Some of these are bigger than others. But to me, they all matter. I’ll post occasional updates here as to how those goals are going. (I swear I had a water bottle around here somewhere…)

Alright. Monthly goals. I’m not making a set number for these, it’ll change depending on the month. Here we go.

My Goals for January 2017

  1. Find a routine. A schedule. A purpose. Normalize my sleep.
  2. Eat healthier.
  3. Walk/bike more. I won’t put running, because I know myself too well for that and I likely won’t run in January. But- if I get in the habit of going for a walk, who knows what February will hold!
  4. Clean up my room and hang up my framed belongings.
  5. Find a job.
  6. Keep my email organized.
  7. Learn to drive in the Netherlands.
  8. Become comfortable interacting with other people in Dutch.
  9. Wear clothes because I like them, not because I want to fit in. (Honestly, I think I can add a scarf to ANYTHING and I’ll fit in…)
  10. Overcome my hatred for odd numbered lists. (Okay, this one won’t really happen. But, it’s a pleasant thought)

Allllrighty. I’m going to go finish my NCIS episode (Canary). Apparently it also snowed. Intriguing. Enjoy a picture my mom just sent of the snow!15909691_978465505587476_1454366300_n I’m half impressed that it does actually snow here.

It’s a little bit late, but guys, have a happy new year.

 

Talk Less. Smile More.

~E.♥

Happiness Is Where You Are

Sometimes it takes not blogging for a month to really find something to blog about.

With that being said… I’ll say Merry Christmas– and then get right into my post.

So, the last time I posted was November 22nd – over a month ago. I showed you my room and talked about Hamilton and other life happenings. This post is going to have a bit of a different spin. I’m going to talk about everything I’ve done in the past month- because heaven knows it’s been… crazy.

On November 27th, my family celebrated Thanksgiving by attending a potluck supper held by other local Americans in Groningen. That was 20161127_190604pretty awesome. The macaroni and cheese was the best. And I never really liked turkey that much- but this turkey was fantastic.  The building pictured is where it was. It was really nice… a great spot for it. It was also decorated beautifully. The lights inside were amazing.

Then… the month turned. December was upon me. It still hasn’t set in that it’s almost 2017, but that’s for a different time to freak out about.

20161203_200144December 3rd I got on an airplane and I flew to Ohio.  It wasn’t spontaneous, I’d had my tickets booked since October. I had been so excited to go back for months… and it finally happened. I didn’t think time would pass that quickly… but it did. So, December 3rd. I landed in Columbus and a family friend, “L”, who was also watching my car, picked me up from the airport. The first thing we did was go to the store and buy Fruit Loops. Man, I’d been wanting Fruit Loops for far too long. The night of December 3rd I spent at L’s house. I took a long shower and slept really well.

December 4th, I woke up and drove to Youngstown where I took part in20161204_144415 Tuba Christmas for the fourth year in a row. It was absolutely worth the 3 or so hour drive. I got to see Ky and a few other friends. I even made new friends! Tuba Christmas took most of the day, but after that I went to Steak and Shake with Ky and my two new friends. It was great. I drove, because man I’d missed my car. Looking back, I’m glad I drove as much as I did. Hmph. But that will be explained later. After Steak and Shake, I drove to where I’d be staying for the remainder of my trip, with a friend named Michelle and her husband and three kids. I got there, took a bath, and fell asleep.

December 5th was relatively normal. I spent time with Michelle, and in the evening I had my first Civil Air Patrol meeting being back. It was PT night. I’d say it went rather well if you overlook me falling because my ankle gave out. Oh well. This is why I carry ankle and knee braces. I got a nice bruise from it, that’s just today finally starting to fade. That’s how you make memories, right?

20161206_122341December 6th was Tuesday. I had a chiropractor appointment for the first time in 4 months, and it was heavenly. After my appointment, I got free Panera by using my saved up rewards and my free birthday pastry. This too was heavenly. I didn’t realize how much I also missed Panera even though I rarely went there.

December 7th. CyberPatriot practice in the evening. Other than that, I spent the day with Michelle. We got really expensive macarons, and they were fantastic.

December 8th. The morning started out with Michelle and I doing one of those black face mask things that supposedly hurt like hell when peeling it off your face. It wasn’t all that bad… definitely not as bad as every video made it look. Michelle and I then got lunch at the Kitchen Post, a really awesome small business that has amazing food. That night, I had aircrew training for Civil Air Patrol. I’m studying to become a mission scanner! I don’t know of many cadets who do it, so I decided I’d give it a chance.

December 9th. I went shopping for the first time being back. I got myself a winter coat. I got a few other Christmas presents. I ate lunch at Chick-fil-A. It was a pretty fantastic morning. In the afternoon, I got my hair dyed again. The same reddish color… 1481338637338but just so the roots didn’t look as horrifying as they had. Ha. That night, I spent the night at my friend’s house. She’s a C/CMSgt in the Civil Air Patrol, and we spent the night partially because we had to meet early the next day for CyberPatriot. We’ll call her KJ. KJ’s mom made me my own pumpkin pie because I’d been so deprived of anything pumpkin here. It was fantastic. However, KJ and I both will confirm that you shouldn’t eat fresh-out-of-the-oven pumpkin pie unless pumpkin stew is what you’re after.

December 10th. CyberPatriot competition, held at Kent State University. It was my first competition as a mentor, and it was interesting. I kept track of some of my favorite quotes from the day. These included:

  • “We put an antivirus on it, right? That’s what CCleaner and Malwarebytes is, right?”
  • “The local security policy is where a lot of stuff is”
  • “That’s not how you spell ‘logging'” “have fun loge-ing on”
  • “No more messing with FTP. We’ve done enough FTP” “But there’s 5 points left! They have to be FTP”
  • “WAIT! Go to Nautilus!” “What is your obsession with Nautilus, child?!” “Well, we haven’t gone through the slash var thing!”
  • “Either this will kill it… or it will kill it and give us points”

If any of my readers know computers, those should have made you chuckle at least a little. I know it was funny in the moment. And it half hurt to not be allowed to say anything. I spent the time by designing a photo book on Shutterfly. It was a good purchase.

img_20161211_132541December 11th. I spent the previous night at KJ’s again. Her sister really liked me. She’s 6. I don’t know what it is with children.  I also cracked my phone screen on December 11th. It wasn’t fun. Oh well. I put my case on afterwards and it’s fine. Didn’t break the digitizer so all is well.

Other than that, the rest of my day was phenomenal. Hi mom, here begin the things you didn’t know about. *hides*.

December 11th, still. Alex, his girlfriend, myself, and one of my friends went to Pittsburgh to the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens to see the Christmas lights they had there. Let’s just say, the weather wasn’t the greatest. The way down was okay. We stopped and ate Chipotle. Then we drove. The lights were incredible.

The way back, we did like, 20 miles per hour in a 75. We couldn’t see. But hey, we’re alive! Shout-out to Alex for being a pretty awesome person and great driver and getting all of us home safe. Alex and his girlfriend got home at like, 3 am. But was it worth it? Absolutely.

December 12th. I spent time with Michelle during the day, and I had a Civil Air Patrol meeting in the evening. I taught drill for the first time in forever, and it was amazing to be back. I also started to get sick today. Nothing like Ohio!

December 13th. Hi mom, you didn’t know about this one either. I’m safe and alive though! 20161213_180047The Rickenbacker Composite Squadron, Civil Air Patrol, is located near Columbus. That 3 hours or so I had to drive to get from L’s to Michelle. My friend “T” and I decided it would be fun to go down to their Christmas party, since we were invited down by multiple people. So, we went. We watched the weather all day, and when it came time, I drove. We kept a running tally, we passed 9 wrecks or 20161213_194026accidents on the way there.

It really wasn’t bad to drive in, though. Like, people are just idiots I think. We left the worst of the weather behind. As soon as it got bad in NE Ohio, we were out of there. T and I had a fantastic time at the Christmas Party. We saw some people we didn’t think we’d ever see again, and caught up with some old friends. After the party, I drove back to NE Ohio and we didn’t pass a single accident. We really did miss the bad weather. I slept good that night. Especially because of this pillow Michelle had. Ha. It was like, memory foam or something, and honestly my favorite thing on Earth.

December 14th. I slept in. Whoa! Haha. Aside from that, I visited family friends, and had CyberPatriot practice in the evening.

December 15th. I went to the movies with KJ and Lauren and saw “Moana”. I fell in love with Disney all over again. I may or may not have been listening to the Moana soundtrack nonstop since then. I’m absolutely not listening to it as I’m typing this… no… Ha. After Moana, I had aircrew training/staff meeting for Civil Air Patrol. I got my first few tasks signed off. That felt pretty good.

December 16th. I didn’t do a whole lot on the 16th. I spent it with Michelle and her family.

December 17th. This day, this day was kinda perfect. It was after all the reason I came back to visit. It started off pretty cool, I saw Alex and we did Christmas presents. Then I went shopping, to get some final Christmas stuff. Then… why I came. The Squadron Awards 20161217_200935Banquet and Christmas Party. It was… amazing. I was awarded two cyber awards, I was given my Amelia Earhart award for promoting to Cadet Captain, I got a challenge coin, an achievement award, and I was awarded Squadron Cadet of the Year. Everyone also loved the slideshow I made. It was so perfect. It was also amazing to see everyone from CAP I missed so much. The picture shows my view for most of the night. I was in charge of sound and slides. it was really cool. Definitely worth going. I’m so glad I20161218_141522 had the opportunity to.

December 18th. I spent the morning with two friends from CAP, playing Cards Against Humanity and building a gingerbread house. After that, I visited a Santa in my hometown. It was sweet. Then I stayed home with Michelle’s kids so she and her 20161218_173111husband could go out for their six month wedding anniversary. It was my first gingerbread house ever… and yes that is a gingerbread man “chalk” outline.

December 19th. Michelle and I went shopping, and out to lunch at Olive Garden. It was very nice. Then I just hung out with her until my Civil Air Patrol meeting. I left really early so I could drive the route I used to drive since it would be my last CAP meeting for a while. After the meeting I went to Arby’s with two friends, and I had my 15628903_1314648875243002_462252621_ofirst ever roast beef sandwich. And then… at 11:26 pm… when I was driving home… I slid my car off the road. It was the most terrifying moment of my life, probably. Everyone had always told me how ridiculous the 711 was in the winter. The cones by the pole in the picture were there because they had just finished fixing it that morning. I was a doors length away. I was pretty sure I was going to slam into it and die… the pole was right by my door. I called 911… I had to get towed. Something was leaking and I was stuck. Alex came and picked me up… and I got home to Michelle’s at around 3 am. I couldn’t stop shaking. I didn’t know what would happen. I was scared…

December 20th. I woke up early and filed a claim about the accident. I called my insurance. I made sure the mechanics knew my car was there and what had happened. I was still incredibly shaken up. But, it was okay. I went to Walmart with Lauren, got McDonald’s that I was craving, and I got to spend time with another family friend. It was very nice.

December 21st. Alex and his girlfriend picked me up to drive me to Columbus, since I 20161222_001946couldn’t drive myself. I’m so thankful for them. They dropped me off at L’s, and I spent time with her and her son. I repacked all of my luggage. We had dinner at TGI Friday’s. I did some incredibly last minute shopping. But, it was nice. I got everything done. I spent time with her, and I still got to sleep. After making Christmas cookies, that is.

December 22nd. I woke up and took a bath. It was nice. I listened to the Moana soundtrack while using some fancy bubble bath from Bath and Body Works. Then L took me to the airport. There was a delay, so we had a fancy lunch at an airport bar & grill. It was really good. After that, I said goodbye. Or well… not goodbye. See you later.

I took my time going through security, and sat down at the gate. I talked to a 20161222_174736few people going to Fort Worth, Texas. They were pretty cool. When I boarded the plane to Philadelphia, I had an entire row to myself and I slept almost the whole time. I had a really cool flight attendant. Also, Philly is beautiful at night.

When we landed in Philly, I had about three hours to kill at the airport. I spent $40 on books and snacks. Oops. I went to my gate and sat down to play on my computer for the rest of the time.

Then, it was time to board my final plane, from Philly to Amsterdam. I was in a bad mood, and in boarding group 4. I was ticked because someone with a frequent flyer number 20161222_165746shouldn’t be in group 4, but whatever. I got over that really quickly. I got to my seat in row 32, and I was still grumpy. That again though, didn’t last long. Once I started talking to the people by me, I quickly discovered that this would be the best flight ever. To my right there was an 18 year old named Alexander. To my left, was a woman named Susan.

Susan slept the whole time, but Alexander and I talked for about 5 consecutive hours. Then we both napped. And talked more. It was by far my favorite airplane experience. Shout-out to Alexander for making that plane ride bearable.

So… yeah. That was the past month of my life in a word count of under 3,000.

Oh! I almost forgot! I was in charge of moving Michelle’s resident Elf on a Shelf, Snowflake. Here are my favorite few:

Lastly, good luck and thank you to Alex for once again taking bamboomy bamboo in and bamboo-sitting. You’re a great person.

Thank you to everyone who made my trip possible and enjoyable. All of my friends and adoptive family members… I love you. ♥

I’ll leave you with a quote from Moana- I took my post title from it, as well.

“There comes a day
When you’re gonna look around
And realize happiness is
Where you are”

Consider the coconut.

~E.♥

“If nobody hates you, you’re doing something wrong.”

Home is where your story begins, or so they say. Now, the title doesn’t have any relation to this post, but I googled “House quotes”, and I should’ve known better.

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I’m sitting at the kitchen table, typing my first blog post from the new house. I am really newhouse3doing something productive- I’m hurrying up and waiting. Yesterday I set up the wifi (and cried a little at the wiring done in the meter closet) and now I’m waiting for the TV to decide to finally want to work.

The first picture here to the left, is what the closet lnewhouse2ooked like before I put the modem in (yes, it’s a modem. With WiFi capabilities. *twitches*).

The picture to the right is after installing the modem. It’s still barely better, but it… works. I just kind of want to cry and install little tiny shelves. It honestly is slightly  frustrating, especially coming from the US where you had the freedom to put your router and phone (almost) anywhere. The “meterkast”, or “meter closet” in English- is kind of just a pain in the neck.

Oh- another pain in the neck?? The WiFi doesn’t reach my room. Time to go buy a WiFi Range Extender. I wanted to use the NetGear router dangling from the cable in the “before the modem” picture and set up my own WiFi in my room. But, my mom isn’t necessarily a newhouse4fan of running Ethernet Cables through the house. Darn… :p

This is my view right now, the leaning tower of boxes and the TV loading screen. It’s rather annoying- and has probably
been sitting like that for about half an hour.

But on a side note, our living room looks really cute and the newhouse1couch is comfortable as heck. Also yes, I *did* line up the bird picture with the TV. From this angle, it doesn’t look like it- but I promise it is. I spent *wayyyy* too much time doing so.

It’s coming along. It’ll start to feel like home soon, right? When we actually start sleeping here… Right? Hopefully. Ikea is coming tomorrow to set up my dresser, my brother’s bed, and bring mattresses. I’m excited for that, because it means I can go back to doing productive things in my room. And make my bed. And decorate. And hang stuff up. Okay, I’m a tad excited about my room. Who wouldn’t be, though?

Oh! I finally remembered what I’ve been meaning to post about. Remember my friend that crashed into the lake? (See this post) Well, he’s okay! And so is his instrument. He lost some music and solos, but other than that, he’s absolutely fine. Even his phone works again. I was so relieved. Shout-out to all my friends that helped me find out he was okay/helped me calm down. My mom, too. She helped me a bunch.

Well, the TV is still loading, bu I think I’m going to go take a nap in the recliner now that my mom left the house to go pick my brother up from school. Yay, productivity!

Have a great day, everyone 🙂

-E.