Sunday, May 27, 2012

Follow Up: How the World Works.... 5 Year Old

Mackenzie's birthday party was overwhelming probably because I over-invest myself. I feel the need to control things that I cannot control, and that gets pretty exhausting. Throughout the party, storms were moving through, it was cold, and at one point, Jacci point me in charge of some number of kids that all looked the same. The kids all screaming and the running.... uggh, I was spent.

When Mackenzie opened the polar bear, she'd already been bombarded with what seemed like a million other gifts. When she saw what it was, she shared, with everyone, the story about Bailey eating the polar bear. I'm sure she didn't know the new one was from me. Immediately, I was humbled. I'd been hoping replacing this toy would prove that I'm reliable, trustworthy, and a pretty cool Auntie. However, she was just happy to have a new polar bear.

I also bought her the movie Dolphin Tale.

A few months earlier, I'd taken Mackenzie to see the movie and she still talks about how much fun she had and how much she liked the film. So when I was asking Jacci for gift ideas for her daughter, Jacci instantly said, you should buy her Dolphin Tale... Mackenzie still talks about it. (The thought hadn't crossed my mind...)

When Mackenzie opened this gift, she jumped and screamed and said she couldn't believe she got the movie. As soon as the family got home, she began asking when we could watch it.

The coolest part of her birthday, though, was that when I explained to Mackenzie and Caleb that I was going to leave and be gone in North Carolina for about "30 sleeps," they immediately wanted to turn the movie off and play with me. So, the kids and I played until they had to go to sleep. I put them to bed, and Jacci told me that Mackenzie mentioned getting Dolphin Tale as being one of the best parts of her day.

  • Kids are pretty cool. Though they all tend to look the same when you don't know them.
  • I should not be put in charge of massive amounts of little kids, even for a second.
  • I shouldn't expect reactions from people, allowing them to react how they want to, not how I want them to.
  • Taking time out to play with my niece-phews has, and will continue to, enhance my life.

Friday, May 4, 2012

How the world works to a (soon to be) 5 year old.

A few weeks ago, Mackenzie and I were playing in the yard. (Sometimes, my niece-phews bring their toys outside so they have a lot of options for their games.) Unfortunately, Bailey got super excited and chewed the head off of a small, plastic polar bear. Mackenzie discovered it and began to cry. Panicking, because I remember how much it saddened me to lose a cool toy, I told Mackenzie that since her birthday is coming up, I'd replace the headless toy (and proceeded to throw away the gross, slobbery one).

Yesterday, I was pacing the aisles of the Toys R Us when a worker directed me right to the same small figurine. The excitement of actually finding the toy soon faded when I realized that the stupid hard plastic mold of a polar bear was $8. What the hell? Eight dollars for something you can't cuddle or even watch on a television? Ridiculous. For a few seconds, I debated buying something else; something that she would use and love "forever." I know that she'll be bombarded by a million toys for her upcoming birthday and that the polar bear figurine would go unplayed with. I didn't want to fork over $8 when I knew I could find something cooler.... but, then, I had a realization....

I promised my niece that I would replace her polar bear. I didn't say, I'd only replace it if I thought it was appropriately priced. Although she's young and may not remember or even fully appreciate the polar bear in a few years, when she unwraps it in a week, she'll know that I kept my word and got her the toy. It's important for my niece-phews to understand that I'm someone who is worthy of their trust and that I'm not just saying things to say them. Mackenzie is perceptive and has an excellent memory. I don't want to be someone in her life who tells her one thing and fails to follow through; I know what that's like. I want this little girl to feel heard and validated. And, I understand that I'm perpetuating the materialistic culture in which we live, but I'm using it to follow through on my promise to a little girl.

Life, to a (soon to be) 5 year old, consists of the relationships she is building, the lessons she's learning, and how much fun she can have before the responsibilities of being an adult hit her. I'm thankful for having the opportunity to be such a big part of her life and watch her grow. Even if that means paying $8 for a little toy that will sit on her shelf.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

"Follow the Money"

I've decided to go to UofUtah. I'm excited and scared to move so far away. The actual process of moving terrifies me more than being relocated and settled. I acclimate pretty well. It's the packing everything up, and moving it across the country....
So, Utah for a number of reasons:
1) They offered me full funding
2) I'm jazzed about their class selection
3) Terry Tempest Williams
4) They'll allow me to transfer my credits from MSU
5) Duke's counter offer was insignificant and I dont want to be in debt my whole life.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thoughts on Decision-Making and My Current Situation.

I'm making decisions about really important things. I'm pressed for time, and these decisions will impact and shape my future. They require foresight. I must admit, decision-making has never been a strength of mine due to my inability to envision the future. I'm working on it though.... I'm working on it.

I've decided that I'm moving back to the OBX for a month (mid May to mid June) to help the reservations department. Not only will this help me out financially, but it's a place where I find a lot of solace and peace. The ocean, the dolphins, the sunshine, paddling in a kayak, and surrounding myself with a lot of people who I love will set the stage for an awesome summer. It'll help build my confidence again and it will remind me of my ability to make friends in foreign places.

I'm deciding which school to attend for the next two years.

Option 1) Duke University. Professional Masters Degree/Environmental Management. Ivy league/private university. They have a phenomenal program... top in the nation, I'm told. However, cost of attendance/living exceeds $40,000/year and they are only offering me $13,000 (tuition NOT included in stipend).
The classes they offer and the program in general seems like a phenomenal opportunity and I'm excited about them. I'd also be able to take a semester of courses on an island in southern NC. They also have a wonderful "career services" department that works really hard to place each and every graduate right into a job.
Another perk, the university is only like 3.5 hours from the OBX, so I could continue to visit there often (for breaks and long weekends). Not to mention, it'd only be like 12 hours from mid-Michigan.

Option 2) University of Utah. Master's Degree/Environmental Humanities. Public university/top tier research school. They've awarded me a fellowship that would cover tuition, most of my health insurance plan, as well as a stipend for living. They haven't decided what that fellowship  means.... RA/TA but either way.... free graduate school!
The program has two specializations: writing and conservation (both interest me). The classes are super interesting, and seem to focus largely on how and why we view the environment how we do. I'd be able to explore place, culture, and the development of our collective environmental stance(s). Also, Terry Tempest Williams (TTW), naturalist/writer, works for the department and would be accessible as a resource.
I haven't spent much time in the American West, though. I have no connections out there, and it scares me to be like 25 hours away. There isn't enough time to fly to Utah and explore campus and the program before having to make a decision, so I'm going into this blind.
I'm intrigued by the landscapes of the area. I would be able to explore The Great Salt Lake, deserts, and national parks. I've been reading Refuge by TTW, and her perspectives on the landscapes of Utah comfort me. I moved to Louisiana and didn't know the area or anyone down there..... I can do it again.

As one of my mentors mentioned today, "Either decision requires a leap of faith."
A Leap of Faith.
Every decision that involves an element of the unknown requires some sort of faith that things will work out in one's favor. Aimee explained faith as "trust in the unknown." It's a solid description of the intangible. Terrifying, though. I'm trying to have faith in me, my potential, and my future. I'm trying to set goals and work toward them (allowing myself to alter the path as my perspectives change).

One day at a time.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Where I am Now.

I haven't blogged in a long time because I didn't like where this blog was going. I wanted to put more depth into it, but found myself too busy to do so. And still, I'm not sure if I can do exactly what I want to do with it, but I figured I'd update it and see where it goes.

I'm struggling with where I want to go in my life and what I want to do. Since I was young, I've been passionate about the natural world and biology.  I figured the sociology program at MSU would be a wonderful opportunity to integrate my knowledge of natural sciences with social sciences. It turns out that I'd have to nearly abandon my natural science knowledge because the program is so rigid with sociology coursework. There's little room for anything else. It should also be mentioned that I'm not funded and earning funding doesn't look promising, either.

So, now I'm trying to figure out what the next step should be. Another Program? Work? I've always envisioned completing a PhD program. But since coming to MSU, I've reflected a lot on my motivation to pursue such a degree. It's distorted thinking to believe that I'm not a valuable member of society unless I have a PhD. And, it's also false to think that I NEED one. It's odd to carry such pressure along with me all these years.
I'm confident that I want a Master's degree, but no longer confident in my ability to commit to a PhD. I'm applying to a few programs around the country, which will mean I'll have to move again. However, if it's only a Masters, I'll only be gone a few years instead of 5-6. There's a program in "Environmental Humanities" at the University of Utah that looks promising for what I could see myself doing. I'm submitting my application this month. I'd also like to apply to an "Environmental Management" program at Duke University, to open up more options.

I'm constantly trying to seek out what the truth is but realizing that it's always more complex than I thought it to be. Understanding truth is a constant process of re-evaluation; re-evaluating myself and the information that I come across. But, I hope to keep this up as I continue moving forward.