Adventure, PCV, Random Life Things

All About Me

I realize that my blog has been getting more traffic lately from people I don’t actually know. It’s probably because I’ve been posting Peace Corps things 🙂 I guess I should probably tell y’all about myself.

  • I just turned 24 on Easter
  • I have a B.S. in Psychology from the Honors College at Western Carolina University
  • I am currently a full time graduate student in internship semester working on my M.A.Ed. in School Counseling
  • I was born in Texas but moved to North Carolina the summer before third grade
  • I live with my parents in the house I grew up in
  • I have one absolutely amazing big brother
  • I have a ton of cousins, the majority of whom live in Tennessee
  • I volunteered at an orphanage in Kenya for two weeks in July 2012
  • I was the secretary of my high school’s FFA
  • I was also on staff for Army JROTC
  • I don’t speak any other languages
  • I have five tattoos, all of which can be easily covered by clothing.
  • I am a feminist
  • I am also a secular humanist, but was raised in the Catholic Church
  • I love to read
  • I graduated from A.C. Reynolds High School in Asheville, NC
  • I am passionate about sharing my love of reading
  • I enjoy knitting
  • I love Coca Cola and anything that combines chocolate with peanut butter
  • I’m the pickiest eater I know
  • I love to listen to music. Ed Sheeran and Mumford and Sons are what I have been listening to the most lately
  • There is nothing more beautiful to me than a clear night sky. I love to look up at the stars. It reminds me that I’m part of something bigger
  • I began my journey applying for the Peace Corps in August and I will be leaving for a teaching position in South Africa this July
  • I horseback rode regularly for a little over five years, then injured my back and have been unable to return to it
  • I have worked in a bookstore, a few summer camps, a frozen custard shop, a few offices, and in hotel housekeeping
  • I love watching the moment when a student “gets” something he or she didn’t understand before
  • I am a huge nerd/dork/whatever you want to call me 🙂
  • I love Harry Potter
  • I also love Doctor Who, Sherlock, Firefly, Star Wars, Game of Thrones, the Vampire Diaries, and Mel Brooks films

Books I enjoyed reading include but are not limited to:

  • The Harry Potter Series
  • Anything by Christopher Moore, particularly Lamb
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Books by Chelsea Handler
  • Walk Two Moons
  • The Hobbit
  • The Great Gatsby
  • Number the Stars
  • Rena’s Promise
  • His Dark Materials Trilogy
  • The Book Thief
  • Anything by Roald Dahl
  • The Hunger Games Trilogy
  • Wildwood
  • Anything by Shel Silverstein
  • World War Z
  • The Wizard of Oz Collection
  • Bossypants by Tina Fey
  • The Diary of Anne Frank
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God
  • Beloved
  • The Lovely Bones
  • Les Miserables
  • The Other Boleyn Girl
  • The Wicked Series

There are many more, but that’s all for now 🙂

Attitude of Gratitude

A Month of Gratitude

November 1: Today, I am thankful for all of the amazing people in my life who have helped me become the person I am today.

Mom: You are the strongest woman I know.  Your faith and your strength inspire me.  You taught me to never give up on what I want, my hopes, or my dreams.  Thank you for giving me life, having faith in me, always loving me, and being a great listener.

Dad: Throughout my life you have always shown me how to treat others with kindness and respect.  It seems your life mission is to help other people.  Thank you for having faith in me, always loving me, and inspiring me to make a difference in this world.

Jac: You are the best big brother anyone could ever ask for.  I am amazed at the growth I have seen you go through over the past few years.  I am so proud of you and so thankful to have you in my life.  Thank you for being a good communicator and always being the most supportive person in my life.

Rachael: You are so much stronger than you even realize.  You are an amazing mother and friend.  Your humility and dedication have shaped the person I am today.  It has been an amazing experience to watch you learn and grow.  I honestly can’t tell you how much I have learned about myself and about life from being your friend for so long.  Thank you for all of the valuable lessons you have taught me, your warmth, your love, and your undying friendship.

Falon: You can’t read this yet, but I want you to know that you make me want to be a better person.  I didn’t realize how much I could love another human being until I held you for the first time.  Thank you for letting me be a part of your life, even though you don’t really have a choice in the matter yet 😉

Holly: You are one of the kindest people I know.  I can’t tell you how much better it makes me feel every time we talk.  I know that water quality is your passion, but your empathy would make you a fantastic counselor.  You always put others’ wellbeing before your own.  Thank you for always being there for me and for showing me that it’s okay to express how I feel.

Cody: HAPPY BIRTHDAY!  You are an amazing father and I am so happy for you and Laura Beth.  You helped me gain the courage to be myself and share my story with others.  You have always been there for me when I needed you and have always been honest with me.  I don’t know how to express my gratitude for all you have helped me learn.

Laura Beth: You taught me so much about growing up and becoming a responsible adult.  I’m still not quite there yet, but you have helped me learn about sacrificing for those I love.  Thank you for teaching me how to be a better person and friend.

Hanna: You are so incredibly strong and kind.  You taught me that I can share my feelings and thoughts and still be accepted, even if they are a little crazy sometimes.  Thank you for always being wonderfully supportive, understanding, and kind.

Monica: Your faith in me has been one of the most powerful things I have ever experienced.  Thank you for restoring my faith in myself and for teaching me that I am  a person worthy of love, respect, and kindness.

Shyra: You taught me that no one is perfect and that’s okay.  You have helped me to become more accepting of my flaws and appreciate the positive things about myself.  You showed me that it is okay to be a strong and open woman and that the right person will appreciate me for everything that I am.  You inspired me to go on a humanitarian mission trip that eventually led to me traveling to Kenya and applying for the Peace Corps.  Thank you for helping me learn to love myself and inspiring me to follow my dreams.

Jen: You taught me to take a deep breath, step outside of whatever is going on, and stop catastrophizing everything that happens in my life.  Thank you for helping me learn what focus is truly about, for always making yourself available to talk when I need to process something, and for helping me learn when to let go.

Joanne: You taught me how to rekindle old frienships and appreciate the growth and change others have gone through.  Thank you for letting me always be myself when I am around you.

There are many more of you who have had a positive impact on my life and the person I have become and I truly cannot express my gratitude for all of the kindness, understanding, and support you have all shown me.  I am not super thankful for the paper I have to go write that makes it impossible for me to include all of the people, but it is a part of being in graduate school, which I am very thankful for.


Day 2: November 2, 2013

Today, I am thankful for my amazing dad (Happy Birthday!) and my counseling program.

Today is my Daddy’s birthday!  I am so thankful that he is healthy and a huge part of my life.  I realize that I am biased, but my dad is pretty stinking amazing.  He is dedicated to helping other people, an awesome role model for me, my brother, and a whole slew of previous and current swimmers, and is learning every day about how to be more supportive of our differences and the choices I make.  I am so thankful that I was born his daughter and I hope I get to celebrate 56 more of his birthdays with him.

My counseling program can be stressful at times, but it has awarded me countless opportunities to do what I love and help make a difference in the world.  Some days I am very ready for it to be over, but this month of gratitude thing has made me realize that I should enjoy it while I’m here.


Day 3: November 3, 2013

Today, I am thankful for my rights and my safety.

As I get ready to go to sleep, I am thinking about the lovely children in Makuyu who are doing chores and getting ready to eat breakfast right about now. They are such bright, loving, kind young people and it makes me sad to think about how truly powerless I am to help them as a group.

In 2007, over one thousand Kenyans were killed in riots and ethnic violence following allegations of corruption in the Presidential election. In March 2013, the incumbent could go up against four individuals who have been charged with crimes against humanity for the part they allegedly played in the ethnic violence that took place in 2007. If any of the ICC Four win, Kenya could have a sitting President who will stand trial for crimes against humanity only a month after the election. If the incumbent wins, I fear more retaliation from the opposition. It breaks my heart to think that the children I grew to love so much could be in harm’s way.

It is sickening for me to think that the alleged instigators could not only get away with the crimes many believe they are guilty of, but be elected as important government officials. My experience of the Kenyan people I met was that they were kind, peaceful, and loving. It doesn’t seem that a president who condones violence, ethnic or otherwise, would be a good representative for the general population.

While emotions will run high this Tuesday, it is unlikely that widespread violence will occur regardless of the outcome of the American Presidential Election. Today, I am thankful for my safety and for the fact that I can post my political opinions online and otherwise share them with others without being fearful of being killed. I am thankful that I live in a nation where violence is not widely tolerated and I am thankful that all of my basic needs are being met. I am especially appreciative for the men and women who dedicate their lives to protect the rights of strangers such as myself.


Day 4: November 4, 2013

Today, I am thankful for all of the amazing opportunities I have been afforded over the past year.

I am immensely thankful for my graduate program.  The course work and the people I have met have taught me more about myself and about being a counselor than I ever realized was possible.

I am endlessly grateful for the opportunity I have been given to be a part of Falon Kathryn Renee Lindsey’s life.  I never knew I could love another human being so much, particularly not someone I am not blood related to, until I held my best friend’s daughter in my arms for the first time.

I wasn’t handed the opportunity to travel to Kenya.  That I made happen on my own.  But I am thankful for the circumstances in my life that made that dream a reality.  If my school schedule had worked out differently or if I had had a little less money saved, I wouldn’t have been able to go.

Being nominated for Peace Corps service is literally a dream come true.  I am thankful for the opportunity to work and compete to earn a spot living my dream for 27 months.


Day 5: November 5, 2013

Today, I am thankful for the amazing journey I am on to become the person I am meant to be.

All of the growth and change I have experienced over the past year would not have been possible without my amazing and supportive family, the old friends who always love and support me, and the new friends I have made who are courageous enough to always be honest with me.

As a human being, I am necessarily flawed.  While there are still many qualities about myself that I would like to change, I have come an almost unreal way from where I was in my life at this time last year.  My professors, friends, peers, and family have been wonderfully loving and supporting throughout all of the changes I have experienced.

I still have so much more changing to do and I know I have a long way left to go, but it is reassuring to compare the person I am now to the person I was a year ago.


Day 6: November 6, 2013

Today, I am endlessly grateful for the strong women who came before me and fought for my right and the rights of all my sisters to vote!

Thank you Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and countless others who enabled me to vote in this election for education, a woman’s right to healthcare, a woman’s ability to make her own choices, equality for all, equal pay, the safety of Peace Corps volunteers, affordable healthcare, the environment, responsible and clean energy, help for the people who need it and less breaks for the people who don’t, civil rights, diversity, same-sex marriage, food safety laws, holistic views about violence, and countless other ideals.

They allowed me to vote against bigotry, chauvinism, rich white males making  healthcare decisions for women, trickle down economics, policies based on religion, restriction of the morning after pill, de-funding Planned Parenthood and PBS, elitism, fracking, denial about global warming, abstinence-only education, discrimination, and countless other ideals.

Because of the women who came before us, the women of America were able to raise their voices and vote for their rights!


Day 7: November 7, 2013

Today, I am thankful for my graduate school program.

Even though today was heinous and long and stressful, I am thankful for the opportunity I have been given to learn and grow.


Day 8: November 8, 2013

Today, I am thankful for my support system.

I am grateful for the people in my life who I can turn to in times when I need support.  Their love, acceptance, and support help me to grow and learn and help me to process the things that go on in my life.


Day 9: November 9, 2013

Today, I am thankful for the immense courage and strength of one of my closest and dearest friends.

I am SO proud of you, Holly!


Day 10: November 10, 2013

Today, I am thankful for the love and support I have received from those closest to me.

I can be really hard on myself, but the people I have chosen to surround myself with lately have been amazing at lifting me up and helping me recover a lot of the self esteem I lost touch with over the past few years.  At the end of my last relationship, I was left feeling fat, ugly, worthless, needy, and unreasonable.  Though none of those exact words directly came out of his mouth, it was how I let myself be made to feel.

The people in my life now have shown me that true self-worth comes from the inside and from my ability to stop judging myself based on my assumptions about others’ perceptions.  I may not always think so, but I am pretty awesome at times.  I am compassionate, loving, caring, a good friend, dedicated, generous, funny, and beautiful.  I hope this post will be a reminder to me of that on the days that are tough.


Day 11: November 11, 2013

Today, I am grateful for the beautiful night sky.

There is nothing in this universe that affects me quite the same way as looking at the night sky.   Looking at the night sky offers me a fantastic perspective on being a part of something larger.


Day 12: November 12, 2013

Today, I am grateful for my access to healthcare.

My mom pointed out tonight that she is thankful she had the opportunity to go to the doctor today. We have this privilege as a result of two things: 1) My father working hard to get us health insurance and 2) the availability of quality healthcare in our area.

There are many places around the globe where we could not take a fifteen minute drive, arrive at the doctor’s office, be seen, and be prescribed a simple antibiotic. I am thankful for my access to physical and mental healthcare, particularly after having been in Kenya.


Day 13: November 13, 2013

Today I am thankful for, though saddened by, my many many privileges.

– I am white
– I have health insurance
– I graduated from high school
– I graduated from college
– I am working on my M.A.Ed.
– I have never truly gone hungry
– English is my first language
– My ancestors came to America by choice
– I am an American citizen
– I studied the culture of my ancestors in school
– People in the media look like me
– There were more than 50 books in my house as I was growing up
– I attended private school
– I was encouraged to attend college by my parents
– My family owned the house where I grew up
– My parents always told me I could grow up to be anything I wanted to be
– I have always had access to clean drinking water
– I have never had to go without shoes
– I have always had access to electricity
– I have never had to worry about my family becoming the victims of violence because of their race or religion.

There are so many more…. I am so grateful for my life circumstances, but so saddened by the fact that many many millions of other people will never have the same opportunities I will.


Day 14: November 14, 2013

Today, I am thankful for my parents.

We may have different views on some things, but they are supportive, kind, loving, accepting, generous, helpful, good people.  I could not ask for two better parents.  I love you, Mom and Dad!


Day 15: November 15, 2013

Today, I am thankful for my cohort.

When I entered graduate school, I figured that my relationships with people in my classes would be very similar to those I developed in undergrad (nonexistent).  It was such a pleasant surprise for me when I realized that the individuals in my classes were awesome, caring, supportive, funny, intelligent, charismatic people.

I don’t know where I would be today without my cohort.  We have shared times of great joy and intense sorrow, laughter, tears, hopes, fears, dreams, and insecurities with each other.  They are such an amazing support system to me and I truly value the friends I have made in my program.


Day 16: November 16, 2013

Today, I am thankful for migraine medicine.

That’s all.


Day 17: November 17, 2013

Today, I am thankful for relaxing evenings with friends I hold dear.

Sometimes all you need is to get out of the house and chat with a friend 🙂


Day 18: November 18, 2013

Today, I am thankful for the beautiful mountains that I have the privilege of calling my home.


Day 19: November 19, 2013

Today, I am thankful for my safety and for my basic needs being met.

As I sit in a car riding down the road typing this on my iPhone, I am endlessly thankful that my basic needs are all being met and that I don’t have to live in constant fear for my life.

Since 1998, over 5 million people have been killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo, making it the bloodiest conflict since WW2.

Today, I am thankful that I can sleep in my own home each night without having to be fearful for my safety or the safety of my family.

I am thankful for my food, my shoes, my clothes, my access to health care, electricity, running water, and all of the other things I have that I really don’t even need.


Day 20: November 20, 2013

Today, I am thankful for time with my family.

My three favorite people (plus another person who is quickly becoming one of my favorites) are all asleep under the same roof tonight and that makes me happier than I really know how to express.


Day 21: November 21, 2013

Today, I am thankful for my big brother.

Jac is always supportive, hilarious, and a wonderful person for me to talk to.


Day 22: November 22, 2013

Today, I am thankful of the reminder this activity has given me to be mindful and practice gratitude.


Day 23: November 23, 2013

Today, I am thankful for the amazing time I spent with my family.


Day 24: November 24, 2013

Today, I am thankful for good friends and good food!


Day 25: November 25, 2013

Today, I am thankful for the technology that allows me to share my gratitude with all of you.

I haven’t been as good about this for the past few days because I was just SO psyched to get to see my brother, Asher, and Sarah.  It was such a wonderful time spent with people I care about.  It was amazing to have myself, my brother, and my parents all in the same house again.


Day 26: November 26, 2013

Today, I am thankful for the time I got to spend with my mom while she was home.

I already miss her again.


Day 27: November 27, 2013

Today, I am thankful for Rachael and Falon.

No matter how awful my day is or how stressed out I am, being around them makes me feel calm and rejuvenated.


Day 28: November 27, 2013

Today, I am thankful for carpool.

It makes getting to and from class a lot more easy and fun!


Day 29: November 29, 2013

Today, I am thankful for phones.

It’s lovely to be able to communicate with the people I care about when we aren’t geographically close to each other.


Day 30: November 30, 2013

Today, I am thankful for Monica Dyck.

The fabulous friend who is always loving and supportive inspired me to do a month of gratitude.  I have learned so much about myself this month and reflecting on gratitude has made me incredibly thankful for everything I have.


Random Life Things



I don’t even know where to start today, but I feel like I should be writing.  Tomorrow night marks 4 weeks exactly since we took Missy to the emergency vet.  Monday marks 4 weeks from when we found out about her tumor and were told that we should put her to sleep the next day.  The day before yesterday, she caught and killed a mole.  She was very very proud.  Later that day, she sprinted across the yard as fast as she can.  Today, we went outside and she sniffed around  a lot.  She felt good enough to jump up on her hind legs for a treat and she has smiled a lot today.

If we had listened to the specialist in Greenville, we would have missed out on an entire month with our baby girl.  An entire good, happy month which she has felt good for most of.  Dr. Brandon Adley at Upstate Veterinary Specialists in Greenville, SC told us that we should give Missy prednisone to keep her comfortable through the night and advised us to end her suffering the next morning.  I can never ever thank Dr. Hutsell of Fairview Animal Hospital enough for calling my home after he saw that we had made an appointment to put Missy to sleep the next day.  He told my mom that there was no reason to rush things and that we should try giving her honey every two hours to regulate her blood sugar.  It has worked quite well so far and she seems to be in pretty good shape.

My grandmother, on the other hand, seems to be deteriorating.  Since I’m not there with her, I can’t say that for sure, but her voice sounds very weak and there are noticeable changes to her personality.  I hope that I get to go see her soon and I also hope that radiation and chemotherapy pills are effective in shrinking her tumor.

I went on a hike with some friends last weekend and one of them said that she would want to be with me if she got lost in the woods.  This was largely due to the fact that I carried enough supplies in my backpack for our day hike to keep us doing pretty well if we got stuck in DuPonte Forest overnight.  She said that in addition to my preparedness, I offer comic relief.  I hadn’t really thought about it until the past few months, but I definitely use humor to diffuse tense or uncomfortable situations, even if the situation is only uncomfortable to me.  This results in me being a smart ass and often not seeming as respectful as I intend to be.


I am exhausted.  I am physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted.  Trying to deal with everything all at once is incredibly overwhelming, so I’m trying really hard to keep myself busy and only think about one issue at a time.


That’s all for tonight.

Random Life Things

Mothers’ Day

I am not particularly fond of the term “blessed,”  but “fortunate” or “thankful for” aren’t strong enough to describe how I feel about having the family that I have.  It is a privilege and honor to have such an amazing big brother that I can talk to about almost anything and parents that have taught me so much and given me so many gifts.  I am blessed to have two amazing parents who love me and have done everything they can to ensure that I have a good life and make good choices.  My parents are kind, generous, loving, intelligent people who have tried to let me and my brother learn from our mistakes while teaching us lessons about right and wrong along the way.


My father is a good, intelligent, kind man, but I will elaborate about that more later (Probably in June when his day comes :)).


My mother is the strongest woman I know.  She has more faith than anybody I have ever met.  She was diagnosed with breast cancer and came out the other side more or less unscathed like the fighter that she is.  She has taught me so much more than she could ever possibly realize.  Her laugh is one of my favorite sounds on this earth and my aspiration is to one day be half the woman and mother she is.  I honestly don’t know how she has done it all of these years.  I don’t think she would have been able to without her faith and my father.  When I was little, she would wake up while it was still dark outside to start getting ready to take my brother and I to school.  If it was cold in the morning, she would make us peanut butter toast and hot chocolate.  Once she finally got us to school for the day, she would spend her days volunteering at the schools, cleaning up after us, doing our dishes, doing our laundry, and otherwise contributing to the safe and secure life that we had.


I know I have not always made the choices that she wanted me to make.  I know I haven’t always done things the way she would have done them.  I also know that this doesn’t make me a disappointment to her at all.  My mom loves me no matter what.  Even when I decide to go on a trip she’s uncomfortable with and then randomly get a new tattoo.  Even when I date a guy she doesn’t like or act in a way that she isn’t proud of.  Even and maybe even especially when I’m not being the very best person I can be.  When something happens, significant or insignificant, my mom is the person I want to talk to.  She is strong, rational, and able and willing to help me process things out loud.  She is kind, forgiving, generous, loving, compassionate, and genuinely wants to help the people she loves, no matter the emotional or physical tax on herself that comes as a result.  When I was going through serious depression my freshmen year of college, I was on the phone with my mom all the time.  She is loving, encouraging, and confident.  She is amazing.


Dear Mom,

I can never thank you enough for all you have done for me.  You and Dad have made me the strong, independent, intelligent young woman that I am today.  Thank you for understanding that I never meant a harsh word I said during my teenagers years.  Thank you for sticking through that tough patch when I knew everything and everything that came out of your mouth was a “lecture.”  You are amazing, beautiful, kind, intelligent, resilient, capable, a fighter, a volunteer, a survivor, a wife, a woman, a daughter, a niece, an aunt, a friend, a sister, and the absolute best mom that I could ever dream to have.  Thank you for reading to me, feeding me, clothing me, picking up after me, and holding me when all I really needed was a shoulder to sob on.  Thank you for reminding me of how special I am when I feel depressed and can’t find anything to like about myself.  Thank you for encouraging me to be my own person and to be a good, kind, helpful person.  Thank you for choosing the Harry Potter books to give to me for Christmas that year.  Thank you for sharing Harry Potter with me, for letting me make my own mistakes, and for always loving me no matter what.  I know you are proud of me, but it is equally important for you to know that I am proud of you.  I am proud to call you my mom, my rock, and my friend.  I hate that we can’t be together this mothers’ day, but I am so happy that you get to be with your mother.  I love you so so so much and I can never tell you enough how blessed I feel to have you in my life as my mother.





Random Life Things

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Today was exactly what I needed.  I woke up early and got to spend some time with my dog and talking to my dad about my hiking plans.  Then I got to go see three completely beautiful waterfalls and spend time out of my house and outdoors with three amazing friends who are funny, compassionate, and accepting.  Most of us even got to go under a waterfall!  My Daddy smoked a DELICIOUS Boston butt and we had amazing BBQ for dinner.  My best friend came over for dinner and brought an awesome friend with her who I am so happy I have had the opportunity to meet.  We went back to Rachael’s house and sat around talking for hours.  My day has been peaceful, drama free, and oh so relaxing.  It was exactly the type of day I needed to rejuvenate and recharge.  It was almost perfect.  The only things that would have made it better would have been if I had spent more time with my dad, seen my mom, and seen my brother.


Today was an excellent day.